Can You Get an STD from a Partner Who Has No Symptoms

The short answer to the question posed in the title is Yes!

You can get a sexually transmitted disease from someone who has no symptoms. Many infections are super sneaky, which is why they can spread effortlessly. In fact, we’re currently seeing an increase in the rate of infections across the globe. The belief that asymptomatic people can’t spread a virus or a bacterium is often to blame for irresponsible behaviours.

If you are sexually active or intend to get intimate with someone, here are the most important things you need to understand about the pathogens causing common STDs.

A Person Can Have STDs without Knowing It

The only certain way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. Unless you do, chances are that you may have a condition that’s dormant and not causing any symptoms.

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are two very common kinds of STDs that will be asymptomatic in many people.  Statistics suggest that at least 70 per cent of the women and 50 per cent of the men who have chlamydia are asymptomatic at the time of testing positive. Almost half of all people who get tested for gonorrhoea are asymptomatic.

Syphilis is another serious sexually spread disease that can remain hidden for prolonged periods. The statistics for syphilis are similar to those for gonorrhoea and chlamydia – nearly 50 per cent of all people who test positive for syphilis exhibit no symptoms.

The situation is very similar when it comes to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Once it enters the body, the virus begins replicating by targeting cells in the immune system. The “damage” needs to become more extensive for a person to start getting symptoms (and even then, they are going to be rather non-specific).

Studies on HIV aren’t as precise as those for other STDs because numerous people with an infection don’t know their status yet. Current research suggests that about 10 to 60 per cent of individuals with an early HIV infection are going to be completely asymptomatic, but there are some symptoms to look out for. This is one of the main reasons why early infections are often missed and the condition gets identified much later when a person is already feeling poorly most of the time.

There are various other STDs that a person can have without knowing. Human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes and even Hepatitis B can be concealed and asymptomatic for some time.

You Can Have an STD Even if You’ve Tested Negative

Here’s one very important thing you need to understand.

Even if both you and your partner get tested for STDs and the results come back negative, there is still some risk of acquiring an infection through unprotected intercourse. That’s because some viruses and bacteria will show up on a test some time after the infection develops.

This time is known as latency period. For HIV, the latency period is 18 to 90 days, depending on the type of test you’re getting. For gonorrhoea, the latency period is five days to two weeks. You get the picture. If you don’t get tested at the exact time, you may have an infection that you’ve just acquired and that isn’t showing up on a test.

Additional complications may arise from certain conditions.

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia tests are usually administered for the genital versions of the disease. The two conditions can be both oral or anal. If you don’t get tested in every single way, an active STD may be missed.

Screening panels also don’t test for every single common condition. Combined tests usually screen for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and other common STDs. While these conditions affect most people on a global scale, they are not the only ones spread via sexual contact.

Contraception and Testing: Your Safest Bet

As you can see, STDs are very tricky and somewhat challenging. That’s why the world is currently worried about rapidly increasing infection rates.

There are things you can do to make sure both of you will be healthy in the long run.

The first thing to do is get tested for common STDs. The recommendation is to get tested once per year or each time you acquire a new sexual partner. People who engage in high risk behaviours (like unprotected sex with multiple partners) should get tested more often.

Next, always rely on barrier contraception (unless you’re considering pregnancy). Condoms provide reliable protection again most STDs, as long as they are used correctly. They’re also affordable, user-friendly and readily available across Singapore.

Don’t be afraid about talking to your partner. Share your worries and come up with a solution together. Being open and honest, setting clear boundaries and getting in charge of your health can all build a lot of intimacy. This is an opportunity to deepen your connection while also looking out for each other.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about common STDs and the things that you can do to protect yourself, contact Shim Clinic or visit us during working hours every day of the week. Our clinicians will answer your questions confidentially and suggest a course of action in the future that’s most in line with your lifestyle.