At-home tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or sexually transmitted infections (STI) let you know the status of your sexual health without stepping foot in your doctor's office or local clinic. An at-home STD test can also help you minimize the angst of prolonged concerns about your status due to possibly waiting days or weeks for an appointment with a healthcare provider. If you're concerned about exposure to an STD or STI, you're not alone: The US is currently facing record-high numbers of STDs and STIs, with gonorrhea and syphilis especially on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's even more alarming is the recent study showing there were more than 3,700 babies born with syphilis in 2022, which was over 10 times the number reported in 2012. Furthermore, in 2022, there were 231 stillbirths and 51 infant deaths due to syphilis infection during pregnancy.
Dr Alyssa Dweck, Chief Medical Officer at Bonafide Health, tells us that while the younger generation is disproportionately affected by STD and STI infections, she's noted a rise in sexually transmitted infections in perimenopausal adults and seniors engaging with new partners due to divorce or being widowed. "Many in this demographic don’t necessarily think to use condoms, since contraception may no longer be needed, thus the STI rate increases," she explains. Regardless of age, If you're sexually active it's important to proactively test for common STDs and STIs at least once a year, especially if you have multiple partners.
If you're uncomfortable discussing your sexual health with your doctor or a stranger at a health clinic, fully at-home or hybrid at-home tests that screen for various STDs and STIs are a reliable and fast alternative, "access and affordability are benefits of at-home testing," says Dweck.
What's the difference between an at-home test and a hybrid at-home test?
At-home tests are conducted in the privacy of your home, with all specimens for the test collected by you, and then mailed to an affiliated lab in a prepaid envelope or box included with the test. "I'm an advocate of home tests, and I'm a big advocate of home collection," adds John A. Nelson, director of the AIDS Education & Training Center National Coordinating Resource Center at the Rutgers School of Nursing. Home collection test kits are easy to use, allow for a level of discretion and privacy you can't get in a medical setting, offer the ability to avoid awkward conversations with your doctor or a stranger at a clinic and provide results relatively quickly, he explains.
Conversely, if you need an STD or STI panel and prefer to skip a trip to your doctor or health clinic but are uncomfortable drawing your blood or taking the samples needed for the test on your own, you may prefer the hybrid at-home test approach which, just like an at-home test, allows you to purchase the test online and get your results electronically, but when it comes to collecting the specimens, you'll go directly to the lab to have your samples taken — usually about a 5-10 minute process. Dr Kevin Huffman, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, tells us a benefit to taking the hybrid at-home test approach is that "proficient experts conduct in-lab testing, which provides a more extensive and precise evaluation."
If you're unsure which route you want to take (at-home or hybrid), below we outline the best at-home STD tests for various needs and conditions that offer the option to either test yourself or go to the lab to have the samples drawn for you. Above all, the following STD tests do not require a visit to your doctor, insurance or a long waiting period.
What's the difference between an STI and an STD?
It's important to point out that even though the terms STI and STD are often used interchangeably, there is a difference: STIs are infections that have not yet developed into diseases, such as bacterial infections, viruses and parasites. Fun fact (or not): There are more than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be transmitted sexually, yet no single test screens for all of them.
Also, different STIs are detected in different ways, regardless of the test you choose: Some diseases or infections are detected through urine, while others are best detected via blood or cavity swabs. Whichever test you choose will guide you on the best collection method — and state upfront what you can expect.
What are the best at-home tests for STDs and STIs in 2023?
There's a surprisingly large range of in-lab and at-home tests available that can be purchased both in-store and online. To find the best STD tests and STI tests available for over-the-counter purchase, our team consulted with multiple doctors and testing experts about what to look for in a good test and rated each based on elements such as if the lab used to process the test is ISO/IEC/CLIA-accredited, test accuracy, ease of use, if medical providers were available for consultation, user experience and cost. Every person has different needs, so we made sure to include a range of tests to cover various diseases, infections, needs and budgets.
Test collection method: Blood, swab (women-only), urine (men-only) | Time until results: 2-5 days | Free shipping: Yes
Everlywell, a trusted name in home testing offering a multitude of tests and prescription services, tops our list of at-home STD tests due to offering male- and female-specific tests that you conduct entirely from the privacy of your home, no trip to the doctor or lab needed. This STD test kit checks for the six top sexually transmitted diseases and infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis and trichomoniasis. The testing process is simple: Take a finger prick and vaginal swab (for women) or finger prick and urine sample (for men). Once the samples are ready, drop your specimens in the mail using the included prepaid shipping box. Within a few days, you'll get results via an app or the website. What especially stands out is that if you test positive for an STD or STI, an Everlywell healthcare provider will reach out to go over what everything means, as well as treatment options and prescribe medication if necessary. If you need your test results ASAP, you can opt for express shipping for an extra charge ($30).
While this test is pricy (which is standard for a test that offers a complete STD and STI panel), you can save 15% by signing up for a semi-annual subscription. All packaging involved is plain and discreet, so you don't have to stress about nosy neighbors or roommates. Insurance coverage depends on your plan, but the tests are FSA- and HSA-approved.
Test collection method: Blood, urine | Time until results: 1-2 days | Free shipping: N/A
STDCheck's test detects a whopping 10 STDs and STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, early HIV, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and herpes I and II. The only caveat to this test (but also why it screens for so many STDs and STIs and the results are returned so quickly) is that a trip to an affiliated local lab is necessary to provide your test samples.
When you purchase the test online, you'll immediately get an access code to schedule an appointment at one of its 4,800 affiliated nationwide labs of your choosing - you may even find you can schedule your appointment with the lab the same day and have your results back within 12 to 48 hours.
Another major stand-out feature of STDCheck is that you can add the HIV RNA Early Detection test to your order, which is an FDA-approved test that detects early HIV infection within 9 to 11 days after potential HIV exposure. STDCheck.com also offers a range of tests for individual STIs, should you prefer to test for only one or two conditions.
Tests for 10 STIs and STDs
Rapid results within 24-48 hours
Care advisors available at any time after purchase
Must visit an affiliated local lab to provide specimen samples
Test collection method: Urine | Time until results: 1-3 days from the date the lab receives the sample | Free shipping: Yes
CVS brand STI test kit tops our list for best budget-friendly at-home test because it covers the top three common STIs for under $100: chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. The test is conducted fully at home and requires a simple urine sample you drop in the mail and ship to the lab (prepaid postage included). A high-complexity CLIA-certified laboratory will process the specimen and then send the report to an independent physician licensed to practice in your state who will review and approve the findings. The final report will be sent to you via a secure online portal in about 1-3 days after lab receipt of your test. Unlike the aforementioned test kits that have a provider available for consultation, you will need to visit your medical provider should you test positive to discuss the best treatment plan.
One reviewer said, "I found this test kit to be extremely user-friendly. The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow, and the entire testing process was efficient."
Checks for the top three STIs
CAP-accredited and high complexity CLIA-certified laboratory
reviewed and approved by an independent board-certified physician
Test collection method: Blood, urine | Time until results: 3-5 business days | Free shipping: Yes
If the name or logo for Quest is familiar, then it's likely because you have a Quest lab close to you, after all, there are thousands of Quest labs located throughout the US due to many major hospitals and physician offices that use its services. While the major STD and STI panels offered through the Quest website are hybrid tests that require you to buy online and then visit a lab in-person to provide a specimen, there are plenty of at-home tests available that are conducted fully in the privacy of your home.
Quest offers two in-lab STD panel options: A basic STD screening panel ($139) that covers four conditions: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV 1 and 2. There's also the Expanded Screening Panel test ($269) that covers 7 of the most common STDs and STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, trichomoniasis, syphilis, HIV-1 and HIV-2. Once you choose a test, you'll make the purchase online, schedule with the lab and then head over to provide your blood and urine samples. The test kit's purchase also includes the option to consult a physician if you happen to test positive, although it will cost you an additional $6.
In addition to the STD panel tests mentioned above, there are a total of nine STD and STI testing kit options available through the Quest Laboratories website, should you want to zero in on a specific disease or infection or a combination of conditions. At-home and in-lab tests offered by Quest range in condition and price from $45 for the fully at-home HIV 1 and 2 test kit to 19 tests for women's health including a urinary tract infection test (UTI) ($39) and 15 men's health tests, including a test to show health risks based on your genetics.
Test collection method: Blood, urine | Time until results: 2-5 days | Free shipping: Yes
The MyLab BoxLove Box is a fully at-home STD test kit specially designed to be inclusive for all couple combinations: male and female, male and male or female and female. In addition to being for couples, the kit costs $378 (with 15% off your first purchase if you join the mailing list ), making it about two-thirds the cost of purchasing two separate complete panel tests at a competitor. Each test screens for the top eight sexually transmitted diseases and infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV (I and II), herpes simplex 2, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
To take the test, you and your partner will first do a finger-prick blood test, then a cavity swab (female) and/or urine sample (male), then drop the samples in the pre-paid box and ship to the lab. A certified CAP and CLIA high-complexity testing lab will then process the specimens. Within 3-5 days after lab receipt, you'll receive your results electronically, and you can rest assured HIPAA web security protocols are enacted to protect your data. If one or both of you test positive, you can consult with a doctor in your state via phone consultation about the next steps and be prescribed treatments if needed. If the tests are negative, you still have the option to consult with a certified STI counselor. The tests are FSA and HSA eligible.
Test collection method: Blood, swab, urine | Time until results: Within days | Free shipping: Yes
Nurx has a range of STI kits that are covered by most insurance carriers, including the Full Control Kit which checks for five STIs: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis C. There's also a Basics Covered at-home STI Home Test Kit that screens for the four top STIs: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis. The Healthy V STI Home Test Kit screens for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis. While there is an easy-to-use app, you can still order via the Nurx website, regardless of method, you'll start by answering a few questions about your personal and sexual health to find the best test for your needs; All at-home tests are conducted fully at home then shipped to Nurx affiliated lab.
Nurx is also a great option for those wanting to move to telehealth for sexual and overall wellness needs, including having the option to get prescriptions for birth control, acne control, emergency contraception and even hair loss products, with all medications delivered straight to your home. There's a $15 sign-up fee, but the fee includes access to a year of unlimited messaging with a provider.
One reviewer raved that the process was "EASY AND CONFIDENTIAL," adding that they "Loved this experience. I hate going to doctors, especially around sexual health. The fact that everything can be done without having an in person or video/phone call is AWESOME!"
Covered by insurance
Offers multiple health and wellness Telehealth solutions
Prescribing medical support
Patients using insurance may receive an additional bill from the lab for copays or any additional costs
Test collection method: Blood, urine | Time until results: 2-5 days | Free shipping: Yes
LetsGetChecked is all about making you feel informed from beginning to end. There's a detailed video walk-through on what's in your test kit, how to collect your samples, mistakes to avoid during sample collection, how to ship your samples, and what to expect after the lab receives your samples; there's even a walk-through on how to use the company's super easy-to-use app.
The test screens for five major STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis and trichomoniasis. If you test positive, a nurse will reach out with information on what to do next, including helping you set up a virtual consultation (for an additional $39) that will include a consultation with a doctor and a prescription for medication if needed.
"If you have anxiety about going to the doctor and requesting an STD screening, this is a really good alternative," said a user. "Also, I was able to use my HSA to pay."
What to consider when buying an at-home STI/STD test
What you're testing for
If you are being proactive about testing after being with a new partner, it may be best to choose a test kit that screens for a wide range of conditions. If you've had a known exposure to a particular STD or STI, you could choose a test that screens for that particular condition or a combination of conditions.
Methods for at-home testing generally include instructions for self-collection at home via a blood sample, urine or internal swab, which is then shipped to a lab to be tested. If home collection is not something you're comfortable with, then choosing a hybrid test that allows you to visit a lab to have your specimen collected may be the better option.
As you can see from our list, there is a wide range of pricing options for test kits ranging from $45 for screens for one or two conditions to upwards of $300 for panels for 10+ conditions. In some cases, your insurance may cover the test, if not, HSA and FSA are generally accepted with most all at-home and in-lab tests. Figuring out in advance how much you want to spend can help you choose the right test, whether that be a full panel or a screen for the condition you suspect you may have.
Some tests include counseling from a healthcare provider, while others do not — and Leslie says that's definitely worth considering. "There are issues of follow-up and high anxiety when a test is positive and no healthcare professional is available," he says. You know yourself better than anyone: If you feel like you would be OK waiting to connect with your doctor or someone at your local health care department if you test positive, there's no need to look for a test with a provider connection. But if you know you'd want to talk to a professional immediately about a positive result, a test kit that includes a health care provider consultation may be the best option.
How we chose the best at-home STI/STD tests
To find the best at-home tests, we spoke to multiple doctors for their input on what to look for in an at-home or in-lab STD and STI kits, as well as different types to consider. From there, we researched more than 25 at-home test kits and rated each on elements including sensitivity, ease of use, whether follow-up care is included and good and bad user reviews.
How do at-home STI tests work?
There's variety with these tests and the way they work ultimately depends on the individual test. "Some require an oral or genital swab; others require urine or blood samples, which will then go to a lab," women's health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, co-host of the Open Wider podcast, tells Yahoo Life. It's important to read the manufacturer's information carefully in advance to make sure you're comfortable with the testing procedure.
How do I know whether I have an STI?
The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested. Some sexually transmitted infections don't have symptoms, so you can be positive without knowing, Wider points out. That puts you at risk for health complications such as fertility issues and also increases the likelihood you'll spread the infection.
Are at-home STI and STD tests reliable?
Every test kit has its own sensitivity — meaning, how likely it is to detect an infection. "Many are quite reliable, especially if collected properly and then brought to a lab as quickly as possible," Wider says. Dr Leslie agrees, adding, "The test kits work when done correctly and reach populations that are at risk and might not seek traditional medical help for suspected STDs."
Where can I get a free STI and STD test?
Local health departments and sexual health clinics such as Planned Parenthood usually offer free or very low-cost sexual health tests. If you prefer to try a local clinic, visit your local health department's website to see what's offered; you may even be able to schedule an appointment for testing on the site.
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