The cost of STD testing tends to vary quite a bit. The price is based on a broad range of factors, including whether a test is received in a lab or medical facility, and most importantly, the type of testing needed. Alternative options such as at-home testing may provide a more cost-effective solution when compared to lab testing. However, it’s imperative that at-home tests are performed correctly to avoid the risk of contamination and to ensure accurate results.
STD testing covers several sexually transmitted diseases and infections. These infections can be contracted via intercourse with a partner, oral sex, or, depending on the condition, through the exchange of other bodily fluids such as siliva or blood.
Learn more about at-home STD tests available and how you can use them.
Chlamydia can affect men and women. It’s contracted via oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person and can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth. It causes symptoms that include pain during intercourse, a burning sensation while urinating, and vaginal discharge in women, as well as painful urination, burning around the penis, and swelling in the testicles in men. Tests should be performed annually for those who have multiple sex partners or a partner with an STD. Chlamydia can be treated by antibiotics, but when left untreated, it can lead to severe health complications.
Lab Testing: Testing for chlamydia can be performed in a lab or doctor’s office. Either a sample of urine or an oral swab will be requested, and the cost typically ranges from $50 to $100. Results are usually available within two to three days.
At-Home Testing: An at-home chlamydia test consists of collecting a sample of urine at home and delivering or mailing it to a lab for testing. The test will include a sterile cup to collect the sample; however, it’s important to follow the directions on the package to ensure the sample isn’t contaminated and test results are accurate. At-home chlamydia tests cost ranges from about $35 to $60.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It causes blisters on the genitals, buttocks, and thighs that are painful and extremely contagious. The virus can affect men and women and spreads through sexual contact. It can also be passed from mothers to babies during childbirth. Although outbreaks of genital herpes can be treated and symptoms usually become milder as time passes, there is no cure.
Lab Testing: Herpes testing can be performed in several ways, such as taking a viral culture, which is a sample of the sore or submitting to a blood test or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves providing a sample of blood or spinal fluid. Each test can determine the presence of the herpes simplex virus’ antibodies in the patient’s body and determine whether the infection has been present in the body at any time. If the patient has a current outbreak, the most accurate results come from performing a viral culture. The cost of these tests varies, ranging from $15 to $100.
At-Home Testing: An at-home herpes test usually requires a blood sample. This is taken using a small lancet to poke the finger. Blood is then collected in a small vial that’s provided by the testing company and then returned in the mail or to a lab. Results are often available in two to five days, and the average cost is typically between $100 and $175.
Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria that infect the genitals, mouth, or anus. While it’s often asymptomatic, it can lead to complications with the reproductive system. In men, that may mean prostate and testicle problems, and in women, it can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. This STD can be treated with antibiotics.
Lab Testing: Most of the time, doctors or laboratory technicians collect a urine sample to test for gonorrhea. However, in some cases, a swab may be a more efficient method of testing. This is particularly true for those who feel they may have contracted the disease via oral or anal sex. The cost of a gonorrhea test ranges from $15 to $151, depending on the testing method used.
At-Home Testing: At-home gonorrhea tests require the user to submit a urine sample by delivering or mailing it into a lab. The average cost is about $40 to $50.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be contracted via any other exchange of bodily fluids, including vaginal, oral, or anal sex, sharing needles, and coming into contact with an infected person’s blood. The disease can also be spread to babies during birth if their mother is infected. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV. A person with HIV may experience a wide range of symptoms, beginning with fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue. As the disease progresses, symptoms may alleviate; however, as it develops into AIDS, an infected person experiences extreme symptoms including rapid weight loss, ulcers of the mouth, genitals, or anus, lymph gland swelling, neurological disorders, and pneumonia. HIV is incurable, and the best option is to treat symptoms as they occur and take medication to prevent the development of AIDS.
Lab Testing: Within two to eight weeks of exposure to the disease, doctors can test the blood for HIV antibodies. As the disease progresses, two other blood tests, the antibody/antigen combination test and the RNA test, can be used to detect the presence of the actual virus in the bloodstream. The RNA test can also be performed with an oral swab. HIV tests range in price from $8 to $65.
At-Home Tests: Because HIV can be tested for in saliva, the most convenient method of testing for it at-home is using an FDA-approved oral HIV test. These typically yield results within 20 minutes and don’t require the user to draw any blood. These tests usually cost about $50.
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are spread through sexual contact; no exchange of bodily fluid is required to contract these viruses. They can cause genital warts and, in some cases, can put the infected person at high risk for developing cervical, vulvar, anal, or throat cancer. Most of these viruses tend to clear up on their own within one to two years, but because they’re incredibly contagious, it’s important to test for them. This is the only STD that has an available vaccine. The vaccine is offered to both boys and girls around the age of 11 or 12.
Lab Testing: Women are usually tested for HPV when they receive a pap smear test. It’s done by collecting a small sample of cells from the woman’s cervix. However, these tests are used to screen for cervical cancer and aren’t approved to accurately determine if a patient has HPV. There is no HPV test for men.
At-Home Test: The same cancer screening test can be performed at home. It’s available to women and requires a sample of vaginal fluid, collected by using a cotton swab. Results are typically provided within less than a week, and the cost ranges from $85 to about $120.
Syphilis is a contagious STD that’s caused by bacteria. The disease is passed via sexual contact and can also be passed from mother to baby while the baby is still in the womb. The disease has symptoms that can come and go over time. It progresses in stages, beginning with sores around the genitals, anus, or mouth. As it progresses, the infected person may notice a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a skin rash. In the most severe stage, the disease is known to affect all organs throughout the body, in particular, the brain and the heart. The disease can be cured if caught early enough, but in cases where it’s not, it can cause long-term complications that remain even after the bacteria are no longer present in the body.
Lab Testing: If sores are present in the early stage of syphilis, doctors can test by taking a swab of fluid in or around a sore. In all other cases, a blood test is used to determine whether a patient has the disease. Two types of blood tests can be used to find syphilis in the body: the rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and the venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test. Each test looks for antibodies. The RPR can only be done on blood, but the VDRL can be done on blood or spinal fluid. Syphilis tests are inexpensive and typically cost just a few dollars.
At-Home Testing: At-home syphilis tests are performed by using a small needle to prick the finger and dropping the blood into a sterile vial and sending it to a lab for testing. The results are usually available in less than a week, and the average cost is $40.