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At-home STD tests offer discretion and results within days. Read on to learn how these tests work and what our reviewers thought of some popular options.

If you’re sexually active, regularly testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs) is crucial to protect your health and the health of your partners.

While you can get tested at a doctor’s office or a clinic, at-home test kits offer another good option. Testing for STIs at home is convenient, discreet, and reliable.

Here’s some valuable information on at-home and private lab-based STD testing options, including our top picks.

Price
Tests for
Insurance accepted
Medication
Results
Follow-up guidance
$69 to $169
basics*, hepatitis C
-
yes, through an online visit with a network clinician
within days
yes, if positive
$59 to $399
basics*, Mycoplasma
HSA/FSA
yes, for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis
2 to 5 days
yes, if positive
$60 to $220 ($30 medical consult fee,
basics*, hepatitis C
yes
yes
7 business days
yes
$89 to $249
basics*, G. vaginalis, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma
HSA/FSA
yes, at an additional cost
2 to 5 days
yes, if positive, $39
$24 to $259
basics*, hepatitis (A, B, and?C)
-
yes, $95
1 to 2 days
yes, if positive, $95
$69 to $198
basics*, hepatitis B and C
-
yes, for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis
1 to 3 days
yes, if positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis, $65

*Note that we use the term “basics” to encompass chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, HPV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Other STDs tested are unique to that brand.

STI? I thought it was STD?

An STI is considered an STD when it causes symptoms. Usually, an infection is the first step to potentially developing a disease.

Not all diseases start as infections. But in the case of STDs, they do. In both cases, STIs and STDs are used interchangeably, mostly due to the stigma associated with the term “STD.” We also use these terms interchangeably throughout the article.

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There are many factors to consider when choosing an at-home STD test, which is why we turned to the experts.

Every product we recommend and brand we work with is thoroughly vetted by our team. If there are any lawsuits, recalls, or regulatory action letters documented about these products or companies, our vetting team makes sure they’re reported and listed.

In addition to legalities, our team always checks for medical credibility, good business practices, privacy practices and security, social impact, and the validity of any health claims a brand makes about a product. At-home testing services are required to abide by telehealth standards in the following circumstances:

  • Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and/or Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certified
  • guidance available to customers who test positive for an STD
  • prescription services available in the event of positive test results
  • physician orders for in-person lab test available where necessary

Both the CDC and the HHS pointed to an overwhelming recent surge in STDs:

  • The CDC issued a January 2024 report showing more than 2.5 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia in the United States during 2022.
  • In a January 2024 report, the HHS warned of the “surging syphilis epidemic,” reminding that untreated syphilis can damage the heart and brain and can cause blindness, deafness, and paralysis.

Dr. Dhaval Desai, a physician board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics and director of hospital medicine at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, emphasized the urgency of getting tested.

“STDs or STIs are still a major concern for public health,” he said. “These diseases are still spread. We want to encourage safe sex practices among our population and make sure people are aware of disease manifestations and symptoms.”

“Regular STD testing in sexually active persons is key in preventing sexual partners from becoming infected and spreading STDs,” said Dr. Gary Bucher, an anal health specialist who is the medical director and founder of Anal Dysplasia Clinic MidWest in Chicago. “Treatment of STDs is necessary to prevent health issues that occur with untreated STDs.

Home tests for STDs are relatively new. You used to have to go to a clinic or doctor’s office to get tested. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted its first authorization for marketing a test using OTC sample collection for an STD other than HIV to the LetsGetChecked Sample 2 test for chlamydia and gonorrhea in November 2023.

At that time of the authorization, the FDA gave a green light to the future of at-home STD tests.

“This authorization marks an important public health milestone, giving patients more information about their health from the privacy of their own home,” said Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a November 2023 press release.

“We are eager to continue supporting greater consumer access to diagnostic tests, which helps further our goal of bringing more healthcare into the home.”

The doctors we reached out to for expert opinions, Desai and Bucher, agree about the convenience and anonymity that home tests can offer. However, they also point to potential downsides, including mistakes in collecting samples, unreliable results, privacy breaches, and lack of follow-up care.

“If there were to be a positive reading on a home test, the individual would still need to proceed to see a primary care or urgent care [clinician] for the best treatment and steps moving forward,” Desai advised.

Bucher pointed out that home kits are not available for all STDs. “Until home kits are available for a broad range of STDs and STIs, it is important that patients seek out primary care from healthcare [professionals] who are highly trained clinically and that prioritize patients’ privacy,” he pointed out.

Pros

  • It’s discreet.
  • You can test for several STDs and STIs at once.
  • The timing for collecting the sample may be more convenient for you and provide your test results quickly.
  • Some companies offer subscriptions for people who test regularly.
  • Some services provide medical consults and access to prescriptions if needed.

Cons

  • If your test results are positive, treatment isn’t always readily available.
  • The results may be difficult to interpret without a healthcare professional.
  • There may be delays in sending and receiving tests.
  • The tests may be expensive.
  • A risk of error in collecting samples yourself means your test results could be inaccurate.
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With dozens of at-home testing kits available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. After all, what does a reliable at-home STD test kit look like? What should it entail? What do you need?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Your needs will vary depending on your situation and circumstances. They may also change over time.

This chart can help you decide which type of home test is right for you.

Reasons to test
Fully online test
Home-to-lab test
In-office test
out of curiosity
X
X
X
after sex without a condom or another barrier method, or after a condom broke
?
X
X
experiencing unusual symptoms
?
?
X
before or after a new partner
?
X
X
recent or current partner received a positive test
?
?
X
want to stop using a condom with your current partner
?
X
X
haven’t had an in-office test in 1 or more years
X
X
X

If you think you’ll need help determining results from your home STD test, taking an in-office test may be preferable. It’s an immediate source of information, and you can work with a healthcare professional to create on-site in the case of a positive result.

Be sure the test you choose is FDA-approved. You can check on the FDA website.

“I always tell my patients to look for clinically validated and processed tests through CLIA-certified labs,” explained Gleaton.

At-home STD tests arrive with all the tools needed to collect a sample, such as:

  • needles or lancets
  • swabs
  • collection tubes
  • alcohol wipes
  • bandages
  • a prepaid envelope to mail your sample back to the company

You might need to provide a blood or urine sample or perform a rectal, oral, or vaginal swab. It’s best to return the samples the same day you take them. The company then sends your test results to your online account, usually within 1 to 7 days.

While every STD self-testing service differs, most brands recommended here offer professional advice or support for reading your test results at home.

If you do a fully-at-home STD test, there’s a risk you’ll misinterpret your results. Lab-based tests can also be difficult to interpret without a medical background.

As such, it’s best to opt for a testing service where you can access a healthcare professional to discuss your results with you. They can help you interpret your results and advise on treatments and next steps.

Related at-home STD tests

The tests listed above check for a bunch of different STIs and STDs in one test, but if you want to test for a specific STI, consider these options:

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You can talk with a healthcare professional if a partner has recently tested positive for an STD or STI or if you’re experiencing possible symptoms of an STI.

The CDC recommends STD screenings from a healthcare professional in the following cases:

  • You’re between 13 and 64 years old and have never had an HIV test.
  • You share needles. A doctor may recommend annual HIV testing.
  • You have sex without a condom or other barrier methods. A doctor may recommend annual HIV testing.
  • You have oral or anal sex regularly. A doctor may recommend throat and rectal testing.
  • You’re pregnant. A doctor will test you for hepatitis B and C, HIV, and syphilis.

If you have an STI but are experiencing more or worsening symptoms, like genital discharge or urinary symptoms, you can contact a healthcare professional to evaluate your symptoms further. They can help you with STI testing and treatment.

The CDC makes the following additional recommendations for screening for people who are sexually active:

  • Women younger than 25 years and men who have sex with other men may want to undergo annual chlamydia and gonorrhea testing. Men who have sex with other men may want these tests as often as every 3 to 6 months.
  • Women over 25 years old with any risk factors, like new or multiple partners or a partner who has an STD, should also receive annual gonorrhea and chlamydia tests.

Gleaton recommends speaking with a healthcare professional if you think you’ve been exposed to an STI, even if you’re not having symptoms.

“It’s crucial to catch STIs early and start treatment to avoid any long-term damage from the disease and to avoid passing it unknowingly to others,” she said.

An at-home test may confirm whether you have an STD, but it’s important to contact a doctor if you have symptoms of a possible infection, such as:

  • vaginal or penile burning or discharge
  • frequent urination
  • pelvic or genital pain
  • sores or bumps around your genitals, anus, or mouth
  • atypical bleeding (bleeding other than menstruation)

Most modern STD tests are highly accurate. Most home tests claim to be around 95% to 99% accurate, which is similar to the accuracy of tests done in a clinic or doctor’s office.

Urine tests for STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, are typically accurate when conducted correctly. However, the accuracy can vary based on factors such as the specific STD and the timing of the test in relation to potential exposure.

Test accuracy can also vary depending on the type of sample and the test detection method.

Traditional in-office tests are more accurate than fully online tests, and home-to-lab tests are more accurate than self-collected tests. But all are highly efficient.

Following the test instructions precisely and consulting with a healthcare professional for result interpretation is crucial for accuracy.

Most insurance plans cover the cost of STD tests, as these are considered preventive and covered under the Affordable Care Act. But whether your plan covers a specific STD test depends on several factors, including your:

  • age
  • sex and gender
  • risk factors
  • pregnancy status

Also, the coverage of at-home tests varies.

To learn more about your specific options, you can talk with:

  • a nurse
  • a doctor
  • your insurance company

You can also find free or low cost STD testing sites across the country.

u003cspan style=u0022font-weight: 400;u0022u003eYes, there are OTC tests for chlamydia that you can purchase at pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, or online. One example is the Simple 2 Test from u003ca href=u0022/health/lets-get-checked-reviewu0022u003eLetsGetCheckedu003c/au003e, which is the first FDA-authorized test with at-home sample collection for any STD other than HIV. u003c/spanu003ernrnu003cspan style=u0022font-weight: 400;u0022u003eThese STD home tests typically involve collecting a urine sample or a swab from the genital area and then sending it to a lab for analysis. However, it’s important to ensure that any test you choose is FDA approved and provides accurate results.u003c/spanu003e

Testing for STDs and STIs regularly is important.

Testing can help prevent the transmission of STIs. It can also help you get the appropriate treatment options if you have a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection, as many STDs and STIs can be treated or cured.

Contacting a doctor or other healthcare professional is generally the most reliable way to know whether you’ve contracted an STI or have an STD. But an at-home test is an excellent alternative. For many, an at-home test is a confidential and convenient option.