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Best At Home Herpes Test

We’ll help you decide which herpes test is right for you in 2022 based on cost, accuracy, speed, and more.

Last Updated: Feb 3, 2022
Best at home herpes test

The World Health Organization estimates that more than two-thirds of people on Earth live with a herpes infection. That statistic sounds overblown: how could that be possible? And how do you know if you’re one of the billions of people with herpes, considering many cases are asymptomatic?

We thoroughly tested and evaluated the best at-home herpes testing kits so you can find a convenient, confidential way to test yourself for herpes. We’re focusing on the truly at-home tests – no lab visit required, even if you can order them yourselves. Our guide will help you figure out which provider is best for you.

For those in a hurry, here is a summary of our findings.

Summary of recommendations for best at home herpes test

Best Overall

LetsGetChecked Herpes Test

LetsGetChecked offers the most comprehensive and accurate at home Herpes test. Get fast results within 5 days and enjoy free shipping both ways.

You’ll have the most peace of mind with the only home test option that checks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. It’s simple to use, easy to ship, and the most affordable test available with our discount.

Current Deals: Take 25% off with code: INNERBODY25

Why you should trust us

At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service we review, including all of these at-home herpes testing services. All told, our team has spent over 105 hours testing and researching their herpes test services to provide an accurate, unbiased analysis of how they compare, free of marketing jargon and gimmicks.

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles. We evaluate the service based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

What is herpes?

Herpes is a family of over 100 viruses. Of these, nine affect people, creating diseases such as chickenpox, shingles, Epstein-Barr Virus (which causes mono), and what we commonly consider “herpes” – herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). They are extremely common contagious viruses.

Herpesviruses work by inserting their DNA into our body’s cells, which are then read and copied like our DNA. This way, herpes not only stays in our bodies but is replicated without the initial virus still around.

Herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2) is primarily found in and around your mouth and on your genitals. For the most part, HSV-1 causes herpes breakouts around your mouth; HSV-2 tends to cause herpes breakouts on your genitals. However, oral sex can cause HSV-1 to spread to the genitals, so those categories aren’t totally set in stone.

Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area or contact with fluids from someone with the virus. You can get it from any kind of sex and – in the case of HSV-1 – can get it through saliva from someone with a cold sore. Sometimes, you can get genital herpes from someone who is otherwise asymptomatic. But you can’t get it from touching something that someone who has herpes has touched.

Symptoms

Most people who have herpes don’t know it because they are asymptomatic. When there are symptoms, however, herpes infections are relatively easy to identify. The primary symptom is sores (blisters that break open and become ulcer-like) on your mouth, genitals, butt, and/or the inside of your thighs.

You may also experience:

  • Burning when you pee (if your urine touches any sores)
  • Trouble peeing (if your sores and accompanying swelling block your urethra)
  • Itching
  • Pain around your genitals

If you have HSV-2, you may also experience flu-like symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

When you have sores, it means that you’re in an active herpes infection called an “outbreak.” The virus is latent, however, meaning it hangs out in your body without symptoms after the initial symptomatic infection.

Why test for herpes?

Herpes is particularly contagious. One in six Americans, whether they know it or not, have some form of the virus, and forty percent of those people will have one outbreak if they ever have one. Since there are so many ways to get it through direct contact – some of which that can spread whether or not you’re symptomatic – it’s important to know your status. This way, you can keep any potential partners safe.

There’s currently no cure or vaccine for HSV-1 and HSV-2. If you know that you have herpes, there are medications you can take to prevent and shorten outbreaks. These medications will help to slow the spread of herpes from you to a partner, though you should always wear a condom to avoid any potential spread.

How herpes testing works

For the most part, herpes presents very consistently across people and can be diagnosed on sight. However, it’s important to still get tested and make sure that it’s herpes and not something else so you can treat it correctly.

The CDC recommends only testing for herpes if you have symptoms or have been recently exposed. This is because studies have shown that testing for herpes when you’re asymptomatic doesn’t actually change sexual behavior: people are just as likely to engage in risky behavior like not using a condom whether or not they know they have herpes, if they don’t have symptoms. If you test when you don’t have symptoms and don’t know if you’ve been exposed, it’ll also be harder to tell if your result is a false positive.

Most at-home herpes tests involve a combination of a finger prick blood test and either a vaginal swab or urine sample (if you have a penis). You’ll collect your sample and then mail it back to the testing company, which will run it through a partner lab. Both the blood test and swab/sample are similar in design to tests performed in-office by your doctor; providing both blood and a genital sample helps to minimize the risk of getting a false result and ensuring you get results in case something happens to one of your samples.

If you go to your primary medical provider, they’ll take a look at your symptoms and be able to tell you if it’s herpes or not. Should they not be able to tell – or if you’re asymptomatic despite exposure – they’ll order one of three tests:

  • A blood test to check for HSV antibodies in your blood
  • A viral culture, which requires a tissue sample scraped from a blister or sore, to see if they can grow HSV from the sample
  • A DNA test from your blood, saliva, or tissue from a blister or sore to look for HSV’s DNA

These tests take one or two days to get an answer. Note that it takes about three weeks for enough herpesvirus to build up in your system to test positive, so if you’ve been recently infected, you may get a false negative result.

So, how can you choose between testing at home or in a lab?

Herpes testing: At home vs. in a lab?

While both will get you good answers, the choice mostly comes down to personal preference and comfort. Here’s a handy guide to help you figure out your best option:

  Test at home Test in a lab
Routine testing to stay safe
Yes
Yes
Live in remote area
Yes
 
Unusual or worrying symptoms  
Yes
No symptoms but it’s been a while, and I’m due for a check
Yes
Yes
Tight budget
Yes
Yes
Limited transportation
Yes
 
Making sure treated infection is gone
Yes
Yes
Need results ASAP  
Yes
Partner and I want to stop using condoms
Yes
Yes
Presenting with sores or lesions  
Yes

How we evaluated our top choices

There are four major players in the at-home herpes testing field that we think are worth your time: Everlywell, LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box, and iDNA.

Quality and accuracy

Winner: LetsGetChecked

All four of our top recommendations use IgG antibody blood testing, the most accurate form of testing for herpes, so no matter who you use, you’re likely to find the truth. However, LetsGetChecked is the only at-home herpes testing option that checks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. When it’s not cut-and-dry exactly which virus you have with genital herpes, it’s critical that you test for both to prevent any false negatives in case someone’s cold sores have spread to your most sensitive region. All of the other brands we discuss only have tests for HSV-2.

Speed and efficiency

Winner: myLAB Box

myLAB Box has the fastest turnaround time – an average two to five business days – for results without any complications or hoops to jump through. While they aren’t the only test that takes less than a week to get your results back to you, there are no limits or restrictions on when you can take or ship your test, meaning that you can do it when it’s most convenient for you. Plus, you can find this test in some retail locations in major cities, meaning you can pick it up in-store and not have to wait for the test to be delivered to you.

Cost

Winner: A tie between iDNA and LetsGetChecked

If you only need to test yourself for herpes, iDNA is your least expensive option at face value. They charge $78 for a one-time HSV-2 only antibody blood test, but prices go up accordingly if you want to do a full-panel test for more than one STD. It’s easy to make your own panel test, however, so you don’t have to pay for STD testing you don’t need. However, if you need to retest a positive result, be prepared to pay $30 out of pocket for shipping and handling despite their claims of free retesting.

However, with our promo code INNERBODY25, LetsGetChecked’s herpes test price drops down to a little more than $89. This means, for an additional ten dollars, you can get the only test that checks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 at a slightly higher quality. While it might technically be a little more expensive, we think that being able to test everything is worth the added $10.

Everlywell also comes in close in the fight for “best price” with some of the lowest prices across the board. They’re comparable in price for a one-time purchase, but their membership program is where savings are really spectacular: you can take almost any test on their site once a month for just $24.99.

Customer care

Winner: LetsGetChecked

While all of the companies we discuss care about their customers, LetsGetChecked has some of the more consistent and innovative techniques to show this. You’ll find thorough testing and everything you need to know at your fingertips with every company, but LetsGetChecked goes the extra mile. They provide little things to make the sampling process easier – such as a pipette and a collapsable, reusable silicone cup for the urine sample – and 24/7 access to a nurse hotline for help understanding your test results and next options.

Overall ratings for at-home herpes tests

To help summarize our findings, the chart below breaks down the pricing, coverage, and other important details for each of the simplest at-home herpes tests.

  LetsGetChecked Herpes Test Everlywell STD Test iDNA Herpes 2 Test myLAB Box Uber Box
Price $119 $149 $78 $269
Price with discount $89.25 $111.75   $215.20
HSV-1
Yes
     
HSV-2
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Total STDs tested 1 7 1 8
Different tests depending on genitalia  
Yes
 
Yes
Blood test
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Swab / Urine test
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Result time turnaround 2 - 5 days 5 days 2 - 7 days 2 - 5 days

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked offers a stand-alone herpes test as part of a broad catalog including many STD panels and other health tests. They won’t check herpes on any of their STD panel tests, so if you’re trying to test yourself for chlamydia or gonorrhea at the same time, for example, you’ll need to order two separate tests. Your results will arrive two to five days after getting back to the lab through their cohesive, easy-to-read web portal. Learn more about the company and its STD testing options with our full review.

Insider Tip: Make sure that you collect your samples first thing in the morning – before 9 AM – on a weekday for the most accurate results.

Cost: normally $119, but the price drops to $89.25 using promo code INNERBODY25 (for 25% off).

Letsgetchecked Herpes Test

Pros

  • Medication provided at no extra cost
  • Looks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
  • Thoughtfully designed kits with well-made materials
  • Accepts HSA and FSA payments
  • Free shipping both ways

Cons

  • Very specific time requirements for testing
  • No in-browser chat for customer support

Everlywell

Everlywell is a home testing company that offers a huge range of tests, from food sensitivity to vitamin D to STDs. We recommend many of their products across the board (see our full review of Everlywell), and their STD panel test is no exception.

Rather than an individual herpes test, Everlywell only offers an STD panel test which checks for seven of the most common STDs. These tests are differentiated by genitalia, so you’ll have to pick a separated box. However, the only difference between the two is how you’ll collect your sample: everything, down to the number and types of tests you’ll take, is otherwise identical.

Cost: $149 or $111.75 with promo code REFER25.

Pros

  • Lots of specific resources in easy-to-understand results panels
  • Subscription service provides monthly tests of your choice for $24.99
  • Free physician consultation if your results are positive

Cons

  • Less comprehensive than other multi-STD panel tests
  • Only screens for HSV-2

myLAB Box

myLAB Box used to only test STDs, and they have stayed strong with their multiple comprehensive STD test packs. They offer free two-day shipping and subscription discounts if you want to test yourself every six months. These FDA-registered tests accept FSA and HSA payments with free physician consultations to determine your next steps should you test positive.

Cost: $269 for Uber Box; $379 for Total Box. Take 20% off (for prices of $215.20 and $303.20 respectively) with promo code INNERBODY20.

MyLab Box Herpes Test

Pros

  • Huge variety of non-herpes tests
  • Convenient search-by-symptom feature
  • Can pick up testing kit in retail locations in some major cities

Cons

  • No herpes-only kit
  • Only tests for HSV-2
  • Less than great customer service
  Uber Box - 8 Panel Total Box - 14 Panel
Current price $269.00 $379.00
with Promo Code $215.20 $303.20
Urine sample / Vaginal swab collection kit
Yes
Yes
Rectal swab collection kit  
Yes
Oral swab collection kit  
Yes
Blood drop collection kit
Yes
Yes
Tests Herpes Simplex 1    
Tests Herpes Simplex 2
Yes
Yes
Other STDs tested HIV (I and II), Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis HIV (I and II), Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Chlamydia (3-site), Gonorrhea (3-site), Trichomoniasis, Mycoplasma Genitalium, optional HPV test for women age 30+

iDNA

iDNA – which stands for “I Do Need Answers” – is an at-home testing service dedicated to discreet, accurate STD testing. The service is sleek, with clear, minimalistic graphics and easy-to-read results. It’s equally easy to put together exactly the tests you need to take in a convenient bundle, though you don’t get any discounts for bundling.

Cost: $78 for a herpes-only test; $198 for iBox Standard test kit; $298 for iBox Complete test kit

Pros

  • Advertises 99.9% accuracy through IgG antibody blood tests
  • Almost-free retest on positive results
  • Easy to personalize and create your own test panel for high-risk STDs
  • Free shipping

Cons

  • Only tests for HSV-2
  • Doesn’t accept insurance
  • Costs $30 for shipping and handling to retest positive results
  • Only measures using blood testing (no vaginal swab/urine test)
  • Kits must be used within 3 months of order date

Are at-home herpes tests accurate?

Yes, they are, but the level of accuracy of a herpes test depends on the testing company. For the most part, a sample from a sore or blister is going to be better than a blood test at getting you accurate results, but that doesn’t mean that a blood test is inaccurate. IgG blood tests are about 94% accurate when tested in a lab, and about 92% when tested at home. And testing companies that do collect both a blood sample and a urine/swab sample (like LetsGetChecked) can typically provide greater accuracy than a blood test alone.

All of the testing companies we’ve recommended use this IgG test. Some clinics prefer to test for IgM antibodies, as they can theoretically detect a herpes infection sooner. That said, IgM tests are far less accurate and can increase the likelihood of a false result.

False positives can happen, but false negatives are rare in herpes blood tests if you’ve waited at least three weeks after potential exposure. A false negative is more common in a viral culture, sampling from an active sore, particularly if the sore is small or beginning to heal. None of our recommended at-home tests use viral cultures, so that’s another reason at-home testing might be a better option for you. Blood testing can also still give accurate results if you’re asymptomatic, but you can’t test a sore that isn’t there.

Alternatives to at-home testing

STDcheck

STDCheck is a great option if you’re interested in testing for herpes in a lab setting. Whether you’re worried about being able to test yourself at home or you get squeamish with blood, STDcheck is laser-focused on helping you test for STDs quickly and near-anonymously. You don’t even have to use your real name when ordering your test.

STDcheck doesn’t work with insurance, but their tests aren’t incredibly expensive. You can check for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 individually ($45 each), or in combination with a full 10 Test Panel ($139), at one of their 4,500 partner labs nationwide. However, once you get your results, you’re on your own: STDcheck doesn’t offer free consultations if you test positive, unlike many of their competitors. If you want to speak with a STDcheck doctor, you’ll pay an additional $95.

PersonaLabs

PersonaLabs offers a huge catalog of over 4,000 lab tests. If you’re looking for herpes tests, you’ll have several to choose from through PersonaLabs:

  • IgG blood tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
  • IgM blood tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
  • DNA PCR tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
  • Comprehensive STD panels
  • Recent exposure STD panels

While extremely comprehensive and accurate, if you don’t know exactly what it is you’re looking for, this wide range of tests can be easily overwhelming. The biggest problem is that these tests aren’t cheap – one blood test can cost up to $100, and a comprehensive panel test costs an average of $350. PersonaLabs doesn’t work with insurance, so these tests will be out-of-pocket. They are also laboratory tests, so while you can order them yourself, you’ll need to find a local Quest or LabCorp laboratory to get your blood drawn.

In-office testing

When all else fails, you can always reach out to your primary care provider for a herpes screening. They will be able to get you a lab test – whether that is a blood test, tissue sample, or something else – and help you walk through the results. Of course, standard issues apply here:

  • Your primary care provider knows you so your results will not be anonymous nor as private as an at-home testing service
  • There may be a long wait time depending on your doctor
  • You’ll have to jump through all of the standard hoops to get an appointment

Online herpes treatment providers

There aren’t many online providers that offer at-home testing for herpes, but many companies offer at-home treatment. If you’ve used one of the tests we recommend and test positive, you should always check in with your primary medical provider for next steps. If you don’t have one, or are in a situation that means you can’t report it, check out some of the best online herpes treatment providers.

Wisp

Wisp began as a discreet herpes treatment provider and while the organization has expanded, it’s clear they’ve stuck to their roots. This sexual health care service has a wide range of prescriptions that they offer for herpes care. They even break it down between cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes, though most of the treatments are the same, including:

  • Lidocaine pain cream
  • Antiviral pill (acyclovir and valacyclovir)
  • Antiviral cream (acyclovir)
  • L-Lysine (non-prescription)
  • Antiviral all-natural herbal supplements (non-prescription)

You can order treatment once, at-will, quarterly, or to take every day. Ordering more than once signs you up for Wispcare, the service’s primary care platform which provides you with two free primary care visits every year (or an unlimited number for an additional $10/month). With the exception of the L-Lysine and herbal supplements, these treatments are all prescription-strength and require a doctor’s prescription to order, so be prepared to order a few days in advance of when you’ll need it.

Wisp doesn’t take insurance for shipped prescriptions. If you’d like to use your insurance, they can send your prescription to a nearby pharmacy; the medication’s price may vary.

Nurx

Nurx, a classic online birth control provider, also offers genital herpes treatment. They can prescribe valacyclovir, an antiviral pill, for either outbreaks or daily prevention; the difference lies in how many pills you’ll take and when you’ll take them. Either way, you can use insurance up front to cover the cost of the medication and only pay $15 out-of-pocket to Nurx for the necessary medical consultation for your prescription. Valacyclovir is a more expensive antiviral pill than acyclovir, so it’s likely that you’ll end up paying about the same with insurance as you would from other providers out-of-pocket.

You’ll need to have a herpes diagnosis in advance of getting these medications.

Hims and Roman

Both Hims and Roman offer convenient online herpes treatment for men. Your consultation visit is free, and the consulting medical professional at these companies can prescribe valavyclovir to you.

Hims and Roman both offer telemedical care for a variety of issues spanning sexual health, hair loss, skin conditions, primary care and mental health

FAQ about herpes testing

If I get herpes once, will I have it forever?

Yes and no. The sores themselves mean you have an active infection, which can be treated with antiviral pills. However, the herpes virus itself doesn’t leave your body. You can take daily antiviral pills at lower doses, which lower your chance of spreading herpes to partners, but be prepared to talk openly with any potential partners about how to best have safe sex.

I’ve had chickenpox. Does that mean I’m immune to genital or oral herpes, or that I might have them?

No. Chickenpox (and shingles) are herpesviruses, but they are a different kind of herpes virus. Another name for chickenpox is varicella-zoster virus; varicella-zoster is a type of herpes separate from herpes simplex virus (which causes cold sores and genital herpes). Think of it like the difference between coronaviruses: having a common cold doesn’t make you immune to SARS, nor does it mean you’re more likely to have it. They’re just related viruses.

Is there a vaccine for genital and oral herpes?

Not yet. There are some in progress with promising results, but as of early 2022, none of those vaccines are ready for everyone to use. The vaccines being tested are both immunotherapeutic – meaning they can treat herpes – and prophylactic – meaning they can help prevent you from ever getting it.

How often should I get tested and re-tested for herpes?

The CDC recommends that you only test for herpes if you have been exposed or are having symptoms. This is because people who get positive test results while asymptomatic aren’t likely to change their behavior to keep their sexual partners safe. So, unless you’ve been exposed or are developing sores, it’s not a likely test to be on your run-of-the-mill STD panel.

What should I do if I’ve been exposed to herpes?

Get tested! The trick is that there’s an incubation period for herpes that lasts about three weeks, so if you test the day after you’re exposed, there would be no way of knowing if your negative result is in fact a false negative result.

What is the at-home herpes testing process?

Testing herpes on your own is easy. After your test kit has arrived, you’ll need to provide your sample. This can consist of either (or both) a finger-prick blood sample or a vaginal swab/urine sample. Some tests will ask for both, but every test we recommend asks for a finger prick. You’ll follow the instructions on the kit, register an account with your information and the kit’s ID to ensure that your information stays tied to you, and then ship the box back to the parent organization. In a few days, you’ll have your results privately in your inbox – it’s that easy.

How long does an at-home herpes test take?

The testing process itself should take less than five minutes. The longest part is waiting for your results to come back! For the most part, it takes two or three business days to receive your package from the time you’ve ordered it, fifteen minutes max to take the test, and then two to five business days after you’ve shipped the package back to receive your results.

How do at-home testing services protect my privacy?

All at-home testing services use HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, to keep your medical and personal health information private. This act means that your information can’t be shared with anyone, including third-party vendors, without your explicit consent. Your information won’t be shown to anyone without you knowing about it first.

Likewise, all four of the at-home herpes tests run your sample through labs that are both CLIA and CAP certified. These are two laboratory privacy and safety standards – the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments regulations and the College of American Pathologists certification – that prove the lab is compliant and meeting, if not exceeding, industry standards. You can also check for individual certifications and encryption methods around areas like your non-medical personal information (our recommendations protect all of that for you).

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