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Getting tested for STDs can be an anxiety-inducing process. Still, it’s essential for your sexual health. Even with condoms or dental dams, 1 in 5 Americans will experience an STD at some point, and some might not even know it, which can lead to long-term damage.
First, a note on language. The terms sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are used interchangeably. Both terms have the same meaning, according to Planned Parenthood. Because “STD” is more widely used, that’s the primary term we will use in this guide. No matter which term you prefer, the experience of getting tested can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Luckily, in 2022, we no longer have to sit in a waiting room with fluorescent lighting avoiding eye contact with other patients. Today, at-home STD tests with a high accuracy rate can be bought online and delivered to your home in days.
And of course, the biggest question of all: are at-home STI tests as reliable as in-office results? Although in-office results are pretty much the most accurate you can get, they’re a solid alternative for anyone who isn’t comfortable undergoing an examination or doesn’t have the option of clinical testing. Below, we’ll discuss the potential benefits and downsides of taking at-home tests and everything else you need to know about the process, including where to buy the best at-home tests.
Please note that the tests below do not provide information regarding Monkeypox. For more information on this new public health emergency, refer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and read our FAQ about Monkeypox.
The Pros and Cons of Taking STD Tests At Home
- Privacy: You don’t need to leave the house or get out of your pajamas. You also don’t need to interact with other humans. For some, this is a plus!
- Free follow-up care: While a follow-up appointment at the doctor means attending in person, online chats or video calls let you experience the same benefits from home.
- Flexible payment: Some brands accept insurance, while others take credit cards, PayPal, or even delayed payment options.
- Customization: As private as they are, at-home STD tests don’t offer a customized or personal experience like a doctor’s office can. You can’t always ask specific questions and get the answers you need.
- Treatment: While some products offer follow-up treatments, you may still have to go to a doctor’s office for treatment.
- Risk of human error: Without professional lab equipment at home, there’s the risk of contaminated samples since you’re not a doctor. Shipping delays can also render your sample useless, although these instances are rare.
A lot of these sites have a wide range of services and can even act as an online doctor, although we do recommend speaking to a healthcare professional as well.
How At-Home STD Tests Work
Although it sounds intimidating, testing for STDs at home is less scary than it sounds. The test usually ships directly to your door and requires you to collect a sample, which is often a finger prick or urine sample.
There are two main types of testing: self-collection and lab collection. With self-collection, you collect the specimen at home and pack it up to get lab tested elsewhere. With lab collection, you order your tests online and go to a lab to collect them. Self-collection is often a popular choice as it offers maximum privacy and convenience, but lab collection can be a faster process. The steps are generally as follows:
- Follow specific instructions – testing shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.
- Pack your sample into the included bag and send it to the lab.
- Within approximately 2-8 business days, you’ll be notified that the results are ready.
- If testing positive, you can set up a consult with the company’s medical staff or set up a follow-up with your own doctor if you prefer.
You’ll have the option of choosing between a multi-test panel or specific STDs. Unless you know that you’ve been exposed to a specific infection, getting a multi-disease test is probably a good idea, especially since multiple kinds of infections can occur at once. While individual tests are often cheaper, test panels can save you money compared to buying multiple individual tests.
Even after taking one of these tests, you should retest after treatment to ensure you’re 100% free of infection. The best STD at-home tests have options for post-test consults or one free retest.
Common STI’s At-Home Tests Check For:
- Hepatitis A/B/C
These direct-to-consumer STD kits can help you safely screen yourself or a loved one more comfortably, keeping your privacy in mind. Here are the best at-home STD tests to buy online right now.
1. EverlyWell Male STD Test
Why It’s the Best: EverlyWell offers a variety of at-home testing services, from COVID-19 to celiac disease. The healthcare service’s comprehensive at-home STD test kit is a reliable option that tests for a wide variety of common STIs.
- Price: $169.00
- Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C (HCV), HIV, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis
- What’s included: This comprehensive six-test panel includes a finger prick sample collection, a urine sample collection and materials for shipping back to the lab. They also have outreach support for positive results, which includes access to an independent physician network and treatment.
2. OraQuick In-Home HIV Test Kit
- Price: $40.49
- Tests for: HIV
- What’s included: Test stick to swab upper and lower gums and a test tube to insert results in. Results appear within 40 minutes. The only FDA-approved at-home oral HIV test.
3. Let’s Get Checked Simple STD Test
- Price: $55.99 -99.00
- Tests for: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
- What’s included: self-collection urine test samples, pre-paid return box, medication for chlamydia, customer service support. One of the fastest turnaround rates for at-home tests.
4. My LAB Box Uber Box 8-Panel Test
- Price: $199.00
- Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Hep C, Herpes Simplex 2 Syphilis, CT, GC and Trichomoniasis
- What’s included: A comprehensive 8-panel test with urine, swab and finger prick test, lab results within five days, pre-paid return box, free physician consults for positive results
5. My Lab Box Home Herpes Test
- Price: $89.00
- Tests for: Herpes
- What’s included: Finger prick test, lab results within five days, pre-paid return box, free physician consults for positive results.
6. Verisana Hepatitis B Test
- Price: $69.00
- Tests for: Hepatitis B
- What’s included: Testing equipment for blood prick, sample instruction, scientific analysis and lab report.
My Lab Box Hepatitis C At Home Test
- Price: $79.00
- Tests for: Hepatitis C
- What’s included: Hepatitis C test kit, pre-addressed postage paid return envelope
Nurx Basics Covered STI Home Test Kit
- Price: Prices Vary
- Tests for: HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis
- What’s included: Urine sample and blood prick test kit, lab work, unlimited messaging with licensed providers for a year whether positive or not.