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STDs and STIs - Overview | March 1, 2021, 7:21 CST

Home STD Tests: Do They Work?
Reluctant to go to a doctor’s office? Try an at-home test for sexually transmitted diseases.
Anastasia Climan
P.W. Payne, M.D.

Reviewed by

P.W. Payne, M.D.
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If the thought of visiting a medical practice gives you overwhelming anxiety but you want to maintain a safe sex life, an at-home test for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) could be the solution. However, before you purchase an at-home test, it’s important to do a little research.

First, make sure the kit you want to purchase has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure its safety and effectiveness. These federally approved kits can be found in online marketplaces or at stores such as Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens. To purchase a home STD test, you must be at least 18 years old.

What to expect

Home kits typically screen for one or more sexually transmitted diseases through a urine or blood sample. Some kits require both. The kits come with everything you need to provide the necessary samples. If you purchase a kit, you should follow the instructions included with it, collect the required samples and send them to a lab. Most at-home tests will come with an addressed and postage-paid envelope to make it simple to mail the samples.

After you send it, depending on the kit you used, you’ll receive your results in the mail, over the phone or online in a few days to up to two weeks.

You aren’t the only one asking yourself, “How accurate could an at-home STD test be?” The answer to that depends on the quality of the samples you send to the lab. As long as you follow instructions to the letter, you’re likely to get accurate and reliable results.

If your results come back positive, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor to learn about possible treatment options and how best to protect your sexual partner. However, even if you get a negative test result, if potential STD symptoms are clearly an issue, you should schedule a doctor’s appointment just to be sure.

How much does it cost?

STD test kit prices vary depending on the type of test and where you purchase the kit.

For example, at-home tests that screen for only one or two STDs are available for less than $30. For more comprehensive tests—kits that screen for up to 14 diseases—prices range from $75 to $180.

Read everything you can about the tests you’re interested in, because some include features such as 24/7 tele-access to a nurse, free sample shipping and complimentary lab analysis costs.

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to a specific disease, targeted tests are an option. Luckily, some insurance plans that include a health savings account or a flexible spending account consider at-home STD kits to be an eligible medical expense.

If you think you might have been exposed to an STD, an at-home test could be a quick and less embarrassing method to discover whether you’ve contracted an infection. However you decide to get tested, the sooner the better. You do not want to be responsible for passing a disease to others, and STDs can have severe and lasting implications for your own body if they’re left untreated.

Anastasia Climan
P.W. Payne, M.D.

Reviewed by

P.W. Payne, M.D.

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