At-Home STD Testing
- Also Known As:
- At-Home STD Screening
Test Quick Guide
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that can be transmitted between sexual partners and through skin-to-skin contact. Many STDs cause mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Screening is important to ensure early detection and prompt treatment to prevent the spread of STDs.
At-home STD testing allows users to collect urine, blood, oral fluid, and other samples before mailing them to be analyzed at a laboratory. Samples are checked in a laboratory for evidence of the bacteria, viruses, or parasites that cause STDs. At-home STD testing is a form of screening that requires follow-up testing with a medical professional if test results are positive.
About the Test
Purpose of the test
The purpose of at-home STD testing is to determine whether a person is likely to have an STD. Positive results indicate the need to follow up with a medical professional for treatment and/or additional testing.
What does the test measure?
At-home STD tests detect the presence of specific STDs. Each STD requires a different laboratory test, so it’s important for people to make sure that the at-home testing kit they’re using is designed to detect the appropriate STD.
Some STD tests look for the genetic material, or DNA, of the bacteria, virus, or parasite that causes the STD. Other tests detect viral proteins, called antigens, or antibodies that are produced by the body in response to an STD infection. Examples of at-home STD tests, the necessary test samples, and what each test measures are listed in the table below.
|At-home STD Tests|
|Test Name||Test Sample||What It Measures|
|At-Home Chlamydia Testing||Urine sample||DNA of Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria|
|At-Home Gonorrhea Testing||Urine sample||DNA of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria|
|At-Home Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Testing||Fingerstick blood sample||Antigens, antibodies, or DNA of the hepatitis B virus|
|At-Home Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Testing||Fingerstick blood sample||Antigens, antibodies, or genetic material of the hepatitis C virus|
|At-Home Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Testing||Fingerstick blood sample||Antibodies or presence of HSV|
|At-Home Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Tests||Fingerstick blood sample or oral fluid sample||Antigens and/or antibodies|
|At-Home Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Test||Vaginal swab||DNA or mRNA of HPV|
|At-Home Syphilis Tests||Fingerstick blood sample||Antibodies or DNA of the Treponema pallidum bacteria|
|At-Home Trichomoniasis Testing||Urine sample||Presence of the parasite itself|
Many at-home STD kits allow users to choose between different STD panels, each including a different set of tests. For example, a standard panel of STD tests may include testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. A complete panel of STD tests may include a standard panel, plus testing for herpes and three types of bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis (gardnerella, mycoplasma, and ureaplasma).
Benefits and Downsides of At-Home STD Tests
At-home STD testing is different from being tested for STDs by a medical professional. Benefits of at-home testing include:
- Convenient: At-home STD testing allows people to screen themselves for STDs without making a medical appointment or leaving their home.
- User-friendly: Test kits are designed to simplify the testing process, often providing detailed instructions and pre-paid labels to mail samples to a laboratory.
- Upfront pricing: Testing companies often provide clear pricing for at-home STD tests. There are usually no unexpected fees for at-home tests.
Downsides of at-home testing include:
- Follow-up appointments needed: Although most at-home STD tests are considered accurate, some at-home test results need to be confirmed by a medical professional. Follow-up may involve additional laboratory testing.
- Potential for errors: While kits offer detailed instructions, there may be increased risks of errors and contamination when collecting the sample.
- Results without a doctor: Although some at-home tests can connect you with a medical professional over the phone, with an at-home STD test you won’t have your doctor immediately available to answer questions or begin treatment.
- May not be covered by insurance: You typically have to pay for at-home tests out-of-pocket, although some at-home STD tests may be covered by health insurance.
- Not available in all states: Current regulatory requirements limit the availability of some types of at-home STD tests in certain U.S. states.
The Best At-Home STD Tests
There are many different types of at-home STD tests available, and it’s important to consider what type of STD testing you’re looking for when selecting an at-home STD test. The following sections provide information about top picks for at-home STD testing:
Sample: Blood, Urine, or Vaginal swab
Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
Results timeline: Within a few days
Everlywell’s STD Test checks for seven different sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Everlywell’s detailed website offers help along the way as you set up an account. Once your request for a test is approved by their board-certified physicians, Everlywell will mail you detailed instructions and all of the materials needed for sample collection. You will also receive a prepaid return label to use to mail your samples to a lab for testing.
Everlywell’s STD Test comes in two versions: male and female. Both test kits come with a lancet to collect a small amount of blood. The male version also contains a cup to collect urine, while the female version includes a swab packet to collect a vaginal sample.
Everlywell’s labs, which are CLIA-certified and meet federal quality standards, usually complete testing within a few days. Physicians review the test results before they’re made available on Everlywell’s secure web and mobile platforms.
Everlywell’s results are easy to understand and come with useful insights. In the case of abnormal results, a physician in your state will contact you at no additional cost. These physicians can also prescribe medications that can be filled at your local pharmacy.
Best 5 Panel Test
LetsGetChecked – Standard 5 STD Test
Sample: Blood, Urine
Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis
Results timeline: Within 2 to 5 days
The Standard 5 from LetsGetChecked is a simple at-home STD test that looks for five of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Packaging is discreet, so it’s easy to maintain your privacy while staying up to date on your sexual health.
The test kit includes everything you need to collect samples, including easy-to-follow instructions. The LetsGetChecked website also offers video tutorials that walk you through the process of preparing the test kit, collecting samples, and packaging the kit with a prepaid shipping label.
LetsGetChecked offers a turnaround time of 2 to 5 days once samples reach one of their CLIA-certified laboratories. Your lab report is available in your secure account, which includes a dashboard that offers helpful factsheets on STDs compiled by clinical experts. The purchase price includes one-to-one support with a member of their clinical team if you have any questions.
Should one or more of the STD tests come back with abnormal results, you can consult with a doctor at no extra charge. For patients diagnosed with chlamydia or trichomoniasis, medications may be mailed to your home without any additional fees.
The Standard 5 STD test panel provides affordable testing for five STDs. They also offer 30% savings for users who subscribe to receive a test kit every three months.
Best In-Lab Option
STD Check – 10 Test Panel
Type: In-Lab Tests
Sample: Blood, Urine
Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
Results timeline: Within 1 to 2 business days
The 10 Test Panel from STDCheck.com offers the most comprehensive testing panel of those we reviewed, allowing you to test for ten sexually transmitted infections for one price.
STDCheck.com is the only online testing service that offers HIV RNA testing. For $258, you can add this FDA-approved HIV RNA test to a 10 Test Panel. This test detects HIV only 9-11 days after infection.
STDCheck.com has a network of over 4,500 testing centers nationwide, allowing you to make a quick trip to a local lab, where a professional will collect your samples.
No need for testing center appointments; you can visit the lab at any time during business hours, have your samples collected, and walk out in no more than five minutes.
Results from the 10 Test Panel will be sent to your email within one or two business days. If any of your test results are positive, you can schedule a phone consultation with a doctor, who can explain your test results, answer your questions, and prescribe appropriate treatment.
STDCheck.com also has trained Care Advisors available 24/7 over the phone or online who can address your questions and concerns.
Best for Insurance
Nurx – Basics Covered Kit
Price: $150 out-of-pocket or $75 + copay/deductible with insurance
Sample: Blood, Urine
Tests for: HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis
Results timeline: Within 7 business days
Nurx designed their Basics Covered Kit for people who have been tested for STDs within the past year and are looking for a quick and easy check-up. After you share some information about your health history on their website, Nurx will send out a self-collection kit in discreet packaging.
The Basics Covered Kit includes supplies to collect and return two samples for testing: A urine sample, which will be tested for genital chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, and a finger prick blood sample, which will be tested for syphilis and HIV.
After collecting both samples, you will package them in prepaid bags and boxes provided by Nurx and mail them to a laboratory for testing. Within seven business days, the medical team at Nurx will be in touch to give you your results and walk you through any next steps that may be needed.
The Basics Covered Kit is a great choice if you need a quick check-up and want to use your health insurance to cover the cost of testing. Nurx offers a discount of $75 plus the cost of copays and deductibles for those using insurance.
If you have insurance and want a more comprehensive STD test panel, Nurx also offers a Full Control Kit. While most test kits on the market only test for genital chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in a urine sample, the Full Control Kit tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea in the genitals, rectum, and throat. Just like the Basics Covered Kit, the Full Control Kit is available for $75 plus insurance copays and deductibles.
Best for Privacy
myLAB Box – 5 Panel At Home STD Test Pack
Sample: Blood, Urine, Vaginal Swab
Tests for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Trichomoniasis
Results timeline: Within 2 to 5 days
With its generic packaging, the myLAB Box 5 Panel At Home STD Test Pack is a good fit for those who are particularly concerned about protecting their privacy.
myLAB Box offers a variety of different at-home STD testing kits and provides tips on selecting the right test kit for you. myLab Box also prioritizes LGBT health and provides information and resources that are specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender customers.
Collecting your samples takes less than five minutes from start to finish. You can use a quick finger prick to collect blood and an easy-to-use sample cup to collect urine. The kit also includes a vaginal swab to collect a vaginal sample.
Once you have collected the samples and placed them in their discreet, prepaid packaging, they can be mailed to one of myLAB Box’s CLIA-certified labs for testing. Secure electronic results are available as soon as 2-5 days later.
Interpreting At-Home Test Results
Generally, results from at-home STD testing show whether the substance measured by the test was detected in the sample. If the substance was detected, this is reported as a positive test result.
Talking to your doctor is the best way to understand what an STD test result means for your health. Important considerations related to the results of at-home STD testing include:
- Positive tests require follow-up: A positive STD result on an at-home test requires follow-up with a medical professional.
- Tests don’t detect recent STD exposure: Depending on the type of test, it can take days, weeks, or even months for an infected person to test positive. For this reason, a negative result does not rule out an STD infection if the test is taken too soon after potential exposure.
- Tests should not guide behavior: High-risk behavior should be avoided regardless of whether a test result is positive or negative.
- Regular screening may be necessary: Age, gender, health history, and number of sexual partners can affect what to test for and how often. It’s important to talk to your doctor about how often to be tested for STDs.
- Testing may cause anxiety: Getting the results of at-home STD testing can cause anxiety. Consider reaching out to your doctor, a mental health professional, or a support organization to get support for the emotional impacts of testing.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Which STD tests should I get? Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/screeningreccs.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs in adolescents and young adults. Updated July 30, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats18/STDSurveillance2018-full-report.pdf
Ghanem KG, Tuddenham S. Screening for sexually transmitted infections. In: Marrazzo J, ed. UpToDate. Updated December 04, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/screening-for-sexually-transmitted-infections
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Sexually transmitted diseases. Updated March 3, 2021. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/sexuallytransmitteddiseases.html
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases. Updated August 5, 2015. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. How do health care providers diagnose a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI)? Updated January 31, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/stds/conditioninfo/diagnosed
US Department of Health and Human Services. Sexually transmitted diseases. Updated October 8, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sexually-transmitted-diseases
US Food and Drug Administration. How you can get the best results with home use tests. Updated December 28, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/home-use-tests/how-you-can-get-best-results-home-use-tests