At-home STD testing

As you and I have discussed before, getting regular STD tests is SO important! If you are sexually active, you should ideally get tested after each new partner. Yes, even if you use condoms! You can still get STDs from oral sex. If you and your new partner both know your STD status prior to hooking up, then you’re probably okay without a new test, that is if you trust this partner is being truthful with you. All this to say, it’s important and normal to get regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections. It should be part of your sexual health routine. You can, of course, get tested at your doctor’s office or a sexual health clinic, but now there are options to get tested for at-home STD testing!

Much like how we can now have our food delivered from our favorite grocery stores and restaurants, have beer and wine show up on our doorstep, we can now order an STD testing kit right to our house. What a dream!

Why types of at-home STD tests are out there?

There are many at-home STD testing kits available, ranging in price from $50-$150 depending on how many STDs you are testing for. The most commonly advertised kits are from Everlywell and LetsGetChecked. There are others available of course, but these two popped up most when I was doing my research. These brands also both have a wide variety of testing. Both brands have tests for all the commonly tested STDs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. The Everlywell test also includes a test for Hepatitis C. These are all the STDs you would be tested for at the doctor’s office as well, so an at-home test can be just as thorough. 

How will I complete the testing?

Once you receive your test in the mail, you have to collect your sample. Read the directions on how to safely and thoroughly collect your sample so you make sure not to contaminate anything or get a false result. Everlywell uses a blood sample and a vaginal swab, while LetsGetChecked uses a blood sample and urine sample. This is nearly identical to getting tested at the doctor as well. Most sexual health clinics will collect a urine sample, usually for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and a blood sample for the others. 

Once you have safely collected your sample, you seal them up and put them in the pre-addressed box provided. Both tests also provide a box that already has the postage paid for. Once the box is sealed, you mail off your samples and wait for your results. You should get your results within 3-5 days, and for both brands, if you are positive on anything or have irregular results, a physician in your state will contact you to discuss treatment options. If you are negative on all of your results, then that’s it! 

What are the pros and cons to at-home STD testing?

At-home STD testing is a great option for someone who wants to stay on top of their sexual health but maybe feels intimidated making an appointment in person. It’s also a great option if you live with your parents and want to discreetly know your status without them knowing you are sexually active. Especially during the COVID pandemic, at-home testing is also a safe way to stay on top of your sexual health without leaving your home. 

Although at-home STD testing can be a great option, it doesn’t appear that any of the at-home tests are yet covered by insurance. Getting STD testing done at a doctor’s office can be free with insurance, or incredibly affordable without insurance at a low-cost sexual health clinic such as Planned Parenthood. Although you get more privacy and convenience testing from home, it’s ultimately more expensive than going to a doctor for these tests. There is also a greater risk for user error resulting in inaccurate results. If you read the directions thoroughly and collect your samples regularly, you should be fine, but there is of course a small risk for user error.

Also if the idea of collecting your own blood freaks you out, maybe the at-home test isn’t for you. Finally, you’re able to ask questions and describe symptoms and your sexual activity at the doctor’s office, which can help best assess what tests you need, while at home you couldn’t do that. The turnaround time for test results is similar to the at-home tests as well as if you went to a sexual health provider, and the protocol for treatment options is the same as well. 

Don’t let the idea of getting an STD test intimidate you and stop you from staying on top of your sexual health. At home STD tests make it easy and convenient to know your status from home within a matter of days!

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