We’re still deep in cuffing season, and as tempting as it is to be carefree in those steamy endeavors, untreated STIs can have some serious consequences and are just downright uncomfortable. However, getting tested for STDs can be just as uncomfortable. 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 2023, 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.
Want more deets on the process? We sat down with an expert from Everlywell, one of the most popular testing services out there, to take newbies through a step-by-step process of what it looks like to tackle STI and STD testing from home.
- Everlywell kit arrives at your home – When you order an Everlywell kit, it’s shipped directly to the address you provide, and the kit usually arrives within 3-5 business days. You don’t need to visit the doctor’s office – or a lab – to take the test; you can do it all at home.
- Register your kit – You’ll open your kit to start the test-taking process. Inside the box, you’ll find easy-to-follow directions for taking your test, and everything you need comes with the kit. After opening the kit, you’ll register your test online (each kit has a unique ID number). This links the test to your account on the secure online platform where your results will appear
- Collect your sample(s) – Depending on the test you order, you’ll need to collect a blood, saliva, vaginal swab, and/or urine sample. Everlywell tests measure a variety of biomarkers in your body so you can better understand different aspects of your wellness. LDL cholesterol is an example of a biomarker (it can help predict heart disease risk), but there are many more. Biomarkers exist in different parts of the body – including your blood, saliva, and urine.
- Send your sample to the lab – Inside each kit is all the material you’ll need to send your sample to one of the labs we use for testing, including a prepaid shipping label. You’ll just slip your sample into the unused mailer that comes with the kit, apply the shipping label, and drop it in the mail.
- The lab processes your sample – The lab will process your sample once it arrives. To make sure your sample receives the highest-quality lab testing, Everlywell only partners with CLIA-certified laboratories, many of which also have CAP accreditation
- View Your Test Results on Our Secure Online Platform – Once the lab receives your sample, you’ll receive your results online within 5 business days (in general). Before your results are released, a physician – from a partner physician network that specializes in lab testing follow-ups – will review them. Results are paired with virtual care to help people make the most of their experience. For most Everlywell tests, the post-test experience includes an educational webinar or a consult with a healthcare professional, which are included in the cost of the kit.
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
Wondering what testing etiquette for polyamorous people looks like? Everlywell’s expert tells us that anytime condomless sex/or fluid bonding occurs, every partner should get tested before participating in any kinds of play. Ultimately, any time a new partner is introduced, testing should be done every three to six months for polyamorous partner, casual sex or sex with anonymous partners. Additionally, if you’re not sure of your partner’s sexual network, you should get tested every three months to avoid unpleasant surprises.
In 2022, Everlywell conducted a State of Sex Survey to poll the changing sex and dating behaviors of young Americans and the preventative measures they’re taking to stay safe. The company also released a corresponding heat map to showcase STD prevalence. It showed that Chlamydia was the most prevalent STD in the set examined, at a 5.4% rate. The average prevalence across all states was 1.9% and ranged from 0.9% in Connecticut and Arkansas to 2.7% in Alabama. Some areas with the highest overall prevalence came from more rural communities, signaling at-home testing’s benefit in providing access to care in those areas. In fact, 20% of the STD tests examined resulted in rural areas.
These direct-to-consumer STD kits can help you safely screen yourself or a loved one more comfortably, keeping your privacy in mind. Based on the above stats, they’re especially useful for those living in rural or remote areas. Since Chlamydia is one of the most prevalent infections in 2023, it’s worth including that in your test panel, if possible. 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. STD Check 10 Panel Test
- Price: $139.00
- Tests for: HIV type 1 & type 2 antibody/antigen (4th gen), Herpes type 1 & type 2, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis
- What’s included: 5-minute testing process that requires a small urine and blood sample. Local sample collection. Results from a CLIA-certified lab emailed in 1-2 days. Free doctor consult over the phone if results are positive.
7. Priority STD Testing 10 Panel STD Test
- Price: $198.00
- Tests for: HIV 1 and 2, HIV RNA early detection, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis, Herpes, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, trichomoniasis
- What’s included: Accurate, quick and discreet lab-based testing from blood and urine samples. Purchase your test online or on the phone. Same-day testing, meds and results available in 1-3 days. Treatment options available for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Trichomoniasis.
8. iDNA Customized STI Testing Kit
- Price: $78.00+
- Tests for: Choose between Herpes 2, HPV, Chalmydia & Gonorrhea, Trichimoniasis, Syphilis, HIV 1/II, Hepatitis C, Mycoplasma + Ureaplasma.
- What’s included: Customized and confidential STD tests with self-collection, so you don’t have to go to a lab. Get fast, accurate results online. Monthly memberships and full panel tests also available.
9. TBD Health STD + Plan B Combo
- Price: $165.00+
- Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, HIV and Syphilis
- What’s included: Urine sample materials, blood sample materials, condoms, biohazard bags, and prepaid shipping labels. CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab test results. Free telemedicine consult. Prescription treatments offered. Only ships to Florida, Washington, Nevada, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
10. Test Kit Labs STI Test Multi-Pack
- Price: $74.95+
- Tests for: Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B
- What’s included: An STD rapid test multi-pack that includes self-testing technology, providing results in less than 10 minutes. Extremely accurate, and no lab work required.
11. 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.
12. 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
13. 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.
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