Best At Home Herpes Test

We’ll help you decide which herpes test is right for you in 2024 based on cost, accuracy, speed, and more.

Medically reviewed by:
Last updated: Apr 25th, 2024
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LetsGetChecked Herpes Test Kit - the best at-home herpes test

Photo by Innerbody Research

Herpes can be a pretty frightening virus. If you get it, you’ve got it for life. Though STDs tend to carry a bit of unfortunate stigma with them, the World Health Organization estimates that more than two-thirds of people on Earth live with a herpes infection. So, how do you know if you’re one of the billions of people with herpes, considering many cases are asymptomatic?

You could go to your primary care doctor or to a sexual health clinic, but many people prefer a more private approach with less face-to-face discussion. That’s where at-home testing can make an enormous difference.

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 — but we’ll let you know your best in-lab options along the way. 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

Best Overall

LetsGetChecked offers the most comprehensive at home herpes test. Get fast results within a week, 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, discreet, easy to ship, and the best value in at-home testing when you use code INNERBODY25 for 25% off.

Table of Contents

In this Review

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 205 hours testing and researching their herpes test services, from the outset of the ordering process to receiving results and following up with care teams where available.

On top of our extensive hands-on testing, our team has amassed a small library of scientific studies related to herpes, with an emphasis on detection and treatment. 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.

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles.

How we evaluated at-home herpes tests

While the field of at-home herpes testing options has slowly grown over the years, there remain two major players in the space that we regularly recommend to readers: LetsGetChecked and myLAB Box. Each represents a slightly different approach to providing consumers with at-home testing, and we pit the two against one another where they either resemble each other or draw distinct contrasts. In doing so, we narrowed down the criteria that will be most important to the average reader, including ease of testing, cost, speed, and helpfulness.

Let’s take a look at each criterion in more detail:

Ease of testing

Winner: LetsGetChecked

This category was nearly a draw between LetsGetChecked and myLAB Box, as there are aspects of either company’s testing that are more or less straightforward than their competitors. Let’s look at some of the hallmarks of the testing experience and compare the two top companies:

Ordering and activation

Ordering these tests online is relatively simple from both providers, though it’s a little easier to find the herpes test on the myLAB Box website than it is through LetsGetChecked. The experiences begin to diverge more meaningfully once the kit arrives at your house. Each at-home test requires activation, and the process with myLAB Box is somewhat more labor-intensive than it is with LetsGetChecked.

LetsGetChecked provides you with a simple activation QR code you can scan, which sends you to a quick questionnaire the company uses to set up your account profile and contextualize your results for its medical team. myLAB Box doesn’t have you fill out as extensive a questionnaire, which might be nice if it weren’t for the lab requisition form you have to fill out with every test. This tedious little document has no online equivalent — you’ve got to fill it out longhand.

Blood draw

There isn’t much of a difference between the lancets that come with either kit (those are the little instant, retractable needles you use to jab your finger). But our testers found the shape of myLAB Box’s lancets just a hair easier to hold. And because LetsGetChecked looks for both strains of herpes instead of just HSV-2, you collect your blood with a vial, rather than the blood spot paper that myLAB Box uses. That blood spot paper makes blood collection a little easier with the myLAB Box kit.

Returning your sample

While both companies make it easy to return your sample to the lab, providing you with free return shipping in included envelopes, there's one thing about the myLAB Box kit that needs to be clarified. It contains a small sticker on which you are instructed to write your birthday and the date and time of sample collection. The problem is that myLAB Box needs to tell you where to put the sticker. We had to reach out to the company to find out that it belongs on the outside of the kit box that you pack into the provided envelope.

Ultimately, there is more convenience from LetsGetChecked in the aspects of testing that don't involve actively bleeding. So, if you don't mind the prospect of drawing your own blood, LetsGetChecked is undisputedly a superior choice. If the blood draw is an issue for you, then you might wish to go with myLAB Box in spite of the lack of HSV-1 test results. In our opinion, the overall testing experience is smoother with LetsgetChecked.


Winner: myLAB Box

If cost is a high enough priority that you’d be willing to visit a local LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics to have your blood drawn in person, then STDcheck is likely your best option, as either of its standalone herpes tests (for either HSV-1 or HSV-2) cost $45.

For at-home testing, though, myLAB Box has LetsGetChecked beat on pure cost, charging $89 for its herpes test compared to $119 for the test from LetsGetChecked. Now, there are unique discount codes for Innerbody readers that bring these prices closer together, but myLAB Box still has an edge. Here’s what those discounts look like:

myLAB Box herpes testLetsGetChecked herpes test
Regular price$89$119
Innerbody discount20%25%
Price after Innerbody discount$71.20$89.25

The discount codes, by the way, are INNERBODY20 for myLAB Box and INNERBODY25 for LetsGetChecked. As you can see, that takes the price gap from $30 down to a little over $18. As we’ll discuss in the Helpfulness section below, LetsGetChecked can detect HSV-1 and HSV-2, whereas myLAB Box can only detect HSV-2. That difference will be well worth the $18 to some, but myLAB Box is more affordable if you’re on a tight budget.

Once you’ve completed a test and gotten results, you can schedule a free consultation with a myLAB Box physician, even if your results were negative. LetsGetChecked has a paid telehealth platform you’ll need to use if you want to talk to a physician about possible herpes treatments, and that costs an extra $39.


Winner: LetsGetChecked

All 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. Both LetsGetChecked and myLAB Box offer phone consultations in the event of a positive diagnosis, but neither can offer prescriptions for herpes infections. There is no cure for herpes, but prescriptions are available that can prevent flare-ups or reduce their duration. Companies like Hims and Roman offer these medications, though they don’t have any testing infrastructure.

LetsGetChecked outperforms myLAB box for helpfulness because it is the only at-home herpes testing option we recommend that checks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. When it’s not cut-and-dried exactly which virus you have if you notice a genital outbreak, 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 of at-home tests we discuss only have tests for HSV-2.

Most people taking a test like this would likely anticipate one of three possible results in their report: positive, negative, or inconclusive (if something went wrong with the test). myLAB Box has a tiny helpfulness edge over LetGetChecked here in that it simply states Positive or Negative in big colorful fonts at the top of your results page online. LetGetChecked, by comparison, uses a very small font and the words “Not Detected.”

Letsgetchecked And Mylab Box Herpes Results

Photo by Innerbody Research

For more information on the helpfulness of these tests, we discuss how herpes testing works in the section dedicated to the topic later on.


Winner: myLAB Box

myLAB Box had the fastest turnaround time in testing, with an average of two business days for initial shipping, three for return shipping, and one for results from the lab. That's a 6-day turnaround from ordering the product to having results in hand. LetsGetChecked wasn't far behind, though. Our testers saw an average of four business days for initial shipping, overnight arrival at the lab, and two days for results.

One additional aspect of myLAB Box’s service that you don’t see from LetsGetChecked is the ability to find its tests 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. (Note that retail purchases are not eligible for the 20% Innerbody discount.) And, because myLAB Box ships via USPS (instead of UPS from LetsGetChecked), you could theoretically leave your sample for pickup by your mail carrier, making it the much better option for anyone too busy to make it out to their local UPS store during business hours.

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 (yes, it’s technically one word, like coronavirus) 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 (unless it was with an active lesion).


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, anus, or the inside of your thighs.

With a genital infection, 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 phase called an “outbreak.” The virus can also be latent, however, meaning it hangs out in your body without symptoms, even after an initial symptomatic infection.

Special Offer from LetsGetChecked: 25% OFF with code: INNERBODY25

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 can spread whether or not you’re symptomatic — it’s important to discuss your results with a physician and learn your status. This way, you can keep any potential partners safe.

Insider Tip: The thought of contracting a lifelong virus associated with sexual health is scary, but thankfully, herpes stigma isn’t what it used to be. There are even entire online dating communities for people with herpes who can find partners with whom they don’t need to feel shame or worry about spreading the disease.

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 help avoid any potential spread. While companies like LetsGetChecked and myLAB Box offer medication for certain STDs when you test positive, neither offers herpes medications.

If you’re looking to acquire herpes medications via telehealth (which can be a great alternative for those without insurance), we recommend companies like Hims and Hers, Roman, or Wisp. However, if possible, seeing a doctor in person would be the ideal route, as they can analyze your test results and determine whether or not you need treatment, or if you can be given medication to suppress HSV. This all depends on your unique case, including your lifestyle and sexual activity.

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 get tested and make sure that it’s herpes and not something else so you can treat it correctly. You should also get tested if you know that a recent sexual partner had herpes or reported a positive test to you after the face. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you may have herpes, and testing is the only way to be sure.

The CDC recommends only testing for herpes if you have symptoms or have been recently exposed. But it should likely be a regular test taken by any sexually active individual. This is because 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. That means a recent sexual partner might have known they had herpes but mistakenly thought they couldn’t transmit the disease because they were asymptomatic, and they may not have told you their status.

Most at-home herpes tests involve a finger prick blood test. You’ll collect your sample and then mail it back to the testing company, which will run it through a partner lab. The blood test is similar in design to tests performed in-office by your doctor.

Using a LetsGetChecked lancet for getting a blood sample at-home

Photo by Innerbody Research

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. (This test determines active infection and your capability to spread it to partners.)
  • A DNA test from your blood, saliva, or tissue from a blister or sore to look for HSV’s DNA. (This is another test that can provide more information regarding your infectivity.)

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 depending on the test. A viral culture of an inactive lesion is the test least likely to produce a false result; your results of this test should truly indicate your HSV status.

The difference between IgG and IgM antibodies

While all of our at-home herpes test choices measure IgG antibodies, some labs may look for IgM ones — but what’s the difference?

IgM antibodies indicate a recent infection; these antibodies are what first become detectable in your blood, then drop off over a period of about 2-3 weeks. After this drop, the presence of IgG antibodies indicates that your body has responded to a herpes infection — this means that you currently have or have had a herpes infection in the past. Once you’ve been infected with herpes, you will always be IgG-positive.

Insider Tip: Notably, Epstein Barr and similar viruses can cause IgG antibodies, as well, which may lead to false positive herpes test results.

Because at-home tests generally look for IgG antibodies, they can tell you if you were exposed to the virus 2-3 weeks or more before taking the test, but they won’t be able to tell if you have a more recent exposure due to not picking up on IgM antibodies (which could lead to a false negative). And they aren’t ideal for showing whether or not you can infect a partner at that point in time or if you’ll ever present with symptoms.

Overall, at-home tests can be a very helpful first step, but a physician's guidance is necessary to determine whether you’ll infect your partner, develop symptoms, or need to adjust your lifestyle in some way.

Can herpes be treated?

While there is neither a cure nor a vaccine for herpes at this time, living with the virus has gotten easier. That’s largely thanks to the development of certain antiviral drugs and creams that can treat outbreaks when they occur or that you can take daily as a preventative measure.

Common drugs prescribed for herpes treatment include:

  • Acyclovir
  • Valaciclovir
  • Lidocaine pain cream

Acyclovir and valacyclovir can be taken at the onset of an outbreak to reduce its duration and intensity, but some doctors will prescribe such antivirals to be taken daily as a preventative measure.

While none of the top testing companies offer prescriptions for herpes medications, there are telehealth alternatives from companies we can wholeheartedly recommend. These include Hims (for men), Hers (for women), Wisp (for either), and Ro/Roman (also for either). Prices vary among the providers, and only Wisp allows you to pay for the drugs with insurance if you pick them up at a local pharmacy.

And, if possible, it’s worthwhile to see a physician in person to have your unique case evaluated, especially if you’ve had multiple outbreaks. They can determine the appropriate approach for your unique situation, including medications and additional testing for more serious infections, such as HIV.

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.

All of the testing companies we’ve recommended use this IgG test. Some clinics prefer to test for IgM antibodies, as they can detect a herpes infection sooner (when it’s newly acquired). That said, IgM antibodies drop off after the initial infection, meaning IgM tests aren’t ideal in all cases 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 (only a physician should evaluate a lesion for herpes, as touching one could expose others to the virus), 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.

So, how can you choose between testing at home or in a doctor’s office?

Herpes testing: At home vs. in a doctor’s office?

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

Test at homeTest in a doctor’s office
Routine testing to stay safe
Live in remote area
Unusual or worrying symptoms
No symptoms but it’s been a while, and I’m due for a check
Tight budget
Limited transportation
Need results ASAP
Partner and I want to stop using condoms
Presenting with sores or lesions

As you can see, issues of time, access to medical care, and severity of symptoms are the aspects of addressing a possible infection that could determine whether you test at home or in a doctor’s office. However, depending on your symptoms and results, you may need to visit a physician, anyway.

The top at-home herpes tests on the market

To help summarize our findings, the chart below breaks down the pricing, coverage, and other important details for popular at-home herpes tests from the top competitors. We’ve included an in-lab offering from STDcheck for a quick side-by-side comparison. We removed Everlywell from this chart and from this guide, as its services have evolved to exclude herpes testing, either as a standalone option or as part of the company’s STD panels.

Lets Get Checked Herpes TestmyLAB Box Herpes TestmyLAB Box Uber BoxSTDcheck Herpes II Test
Price with discount$89.25$71.20$159.20$35
At-home or in-labAt-homeAt-homeAt-homeIn-lab
Total STDs tested2181
Different tests depending on genitalia
Blood test
Swab / Urine test
Result time turnaround2 - 5 days2-5 days2 - 5 days2 days


Best overall and most comprehensive test

Best At-Home Herpes Test


  • Looks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
  • Thoughtfully designed kits with well-made materials
  • Accepts HSA and FSA payments
  • Fast kit activation process
  • Free access to clinical team after results (a prescription consultation costs extra)


  • Small vials can make blood collection difficult
  • Doesn’t offer prescriptions to manage a herpes infection
  • Very specific time requirements for testing
  • Results take a moment to make sense
  • No in-browser chat for customer support

LetsGetChecked offers a standalone herpes test as part of a broad catalog, including several STD panels and other health tests. It won’t check for herpes on any of those other 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. myLAB Box offers a pair of more comprehensive STD tests that include herpes testing in its Uber Box and Total Box, but neither of these test for HSV-1; they only screen for HSV-2 herpes infections.

Insider Tip: LetsGetChecked asks that you make sure to collect your samples first thing in the morning — before 9 AM — on a weekday for the most accurate results. The company says this ensures the samples arrive at the lab in the best possible condition. We’ve sent in samples drawn outside this window and were still able to get results, but it’s probably wise to stick with the company’s suggestions.

In testing, our results were available within about a week of the day we placed our orders. That's slower than myLAB Box, but it's close. Results from LetsGetChecked include a nice timeline that illustrates the test kit's journey from the company to your home and off to the lab. You can use this timeline to check in on the status of your test before your results are ready.

The results themselves are straightforward, but LetsGetChecked uses too small a font for its most critical information, and it doesn’t use simple language like “Positive” or “Negative.” Instead, the report says “Not Detected” or “Detected,” which is technically more accurate as it allows for the possibility of false positives or negatives. But it takes an extra moment to realize what your results are trying to tell you unless you jump straight to the lab report pdf, where the words “Negative” or “Positive” will appear. myLAB Box uses simpler language in a large, easy-to-read font that lets you know your results at a glance.

LetGetChecked charges $119 for its herpes test, but Innerbody readers can use promo code INNERBODY25 to get 25% off that order. That brings your cost down to $89.25, which is still more expensive than myLAB Box’s kit, but the price is much closer. For anyone concerned with HSV-1, either on its own or in conjunction with HSV-2, there really isn’t another option for a better price outside of a lab setting. Both LetsGetChecked and myLAB Box accept payments via FSAs or HSAs.

LetsGetChecked provides free consultations with its clinical team if you test positive, but the clinical team doesn’t offer prescriptions. They can help you understand your results, but they’ll refer you to LetsGetChecked physicians for next steps. Those physician consultations cost $39 if you’ve taken a test with the company and $49 if you haven’t.

This system is far less generous than myLAB Box, which offers free consultations with physicians, even if you need a prescription. But neither site is able to prescribe medication for herpes at this time. They can only treat trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Learn more about the company and its STD testing options with our full review.

myLAB Box

Best budget pick, fastest results, and easiest blood draw

Mylabbox Herpes Test Kit Contents

Photo by Innerbody Research


  • Huge variety of non-herpes tests
  • Convenient search-by-symptom feature
  • Can pick up testing kit in retail locations in some major cities and on Amazon
  • Blood spot collection is easier to perform than vial collection
  • Results are easy to understand at a glance


  • Only tests for HSV-2
  • Test kit is less well-polished than competitors
  • Burdensome activation process

myLAB Box used to only test STDs, and it has maintained a strong presence with its multiple comprehensive STD test packs, even as it’s expanded into other health arenas. It offers free two-day shipping, which outpaces LetsGetChecked’s outgoing shipping average by about two days. The company used to offer subscription discounts if you wanted to test yourself every six months, but those are no longer an option for its herpes test.

Our testers were impressed with the speed at which myLAB Box delivered its kits and received them after we shipped them back. It’s worth noting that the company uses USPS for its return shipping, so you could theoretically leave the package for your mail carrier to pick up. Whether you’re especially busy or have a condition that makes leaving the house more difficult, this is a beneficial feature compared to the UPS process LetsGetChecked uses. (You can set up an at-home pickup through UPS, but it’s an extra step USPS doesn’t require.)

Here’s a look at what the three myLAB Box tests containing HSV-1 screenings cost with and without the INNERBODY20 discount for 20% off:

Herpes TestUber Box - 8 PanelTotal Box - 14 Panel
Current price$89$199.00$379.00
with Promo Code$71.20$159.20$303.20
Tests Herpes Simplex 1
Tests Herpes Simplex 2
Blood drop collection kit
Urine sample / Vaginal swab collection kit
Rectal swab collection kit
Oral swab collection kit
Other STDs testedHIV (I and II), Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, TrichomoniasisHIV (I and II), Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Chlamydia (3-site), Gonorrhea (3-site), Trichomoniasis, Mycoplasma Genitalium, optional HPV test for women age 30+

It’s incredibly convenient having the ability to test for herpes at the same time you test for multiple other STDs. LetGetChecked does not include herpes testing in any of its more comprehensive panels. And, because LetsGetChecked is a bit pricier than myLAB Box, putting together its herpes test with a larger panel gets expensive fast.

What’s less convenient is that myLAB Box includes a lab requisition form with each of its tests that you have to fill out — by hand — and include with your return shipment. It’s far from the end of the world, but it presents an added hurdle in what’s billed as a more convenient means of testing than visiting a lab or your doctor.

Results from myLAB Box are straightforward, with a large “Positive” or “Negative” in colored font at the top of your results page. We appreciated this level of directness, as most consumers will want results of this nature to be immediately comprehensible.

Like LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box offers a free consultation with a board-certified physician for its users. You can schedule an appointment regardless of whether you test positive or negative for anything on a panel, not just herpes or one of the three STDs for which myLAB Box can provide prescription medication (trich, chlamydia, and gonorrhea). This policy is a little simpler than LetsGetChecked, where you may need to schedule a paid consultation to discuss your health outside of positive test results.

Tips for a successful at-home blood draw

Drawing one’s own blood isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s no getting around that decisive moment where you press down on the lancet and feel it jab you like a bee’s stinger. But both myLAB Box and LetsGetChecked make the process about as easy as it can be.

That said, there are some helpful steps you can follow that our testers have come to rely on over the years. These can ensure you have to prick fewer fingers to get the required amount of blood and that your fingers might not be as sore afterward.

  1. Prick the ring finger on your non-dominant hand. If that’s your left, and your wedding ring is a little tighter than it was when you first got it, think about slipping it off before testing to let blood flow more freely.
  2. Run that hand under water that’s as warm as you can stand for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks are ideal, as they push blood into your hands with the help of our good friend, centrifugal force.
  4. Consider skipping the alcohol wipe. If you wash your hands thoroughly, you shouldn’t need it, and the alcohol can dry out your skin, reducing blood flow and increasing bruising.
  5. Stand over your collection site; don’t sit. This will keep your heart above your hand and let gravity help you out.
  6. DO NOT MILK YOUR FINGER. Squeezing your finger to get more blood out will cause capillary damage and bruising. If necessary, you can squeeze from your forearm to the base of your palm and no further.

Of course, if you simply can’t bring yourself to draw your own blood, you can investigate some of the outstanding in-lab herpes tests available, which we’ll touch on right now.

Top in-lab alternative: STDcheck

Whether the sight of blood sends you reeling or you don’t trust yourself to collect a reliable sample, you may need to head to a lab to get your testing done. There are a lot of options in this regard, but two have stood out in our extensive testing experience. Our top recommendation is STDcheck.


  • Great prices compared to at-home options
  • Ability to mix and match tests to check for what you need
  • Prefab panels also available
  • Can check for HSV-1, -2, or both
  • Accepts payment form HSAs and FSAs
  • Very fast results turnaround


  • In-lab experience is largely determined by local lab quality
  • Initial emails from parent company can be confusing
  • Consultations cost $95

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 helps you test for STDs quickly and near-anonymously. You don’t even have to use your real name when ordering your test. Our testers signed up as John or Jane Doe, but we recommend against that, as you may not be the only John Doe in the lab’s waiting room, which can get confusing.

STDcheck doesn't work with insurance, but its tests aren't incredibly expensive. You can check for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 individually for $45 each or in combination for $79. You can also go with a full 10 Test Panel for $139 (this tests for HIV type 1 and type 2, HSV-1, HSV-2, hepatitis A, B, and C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis). For more information on these tests, including methodology, check out our full STDcheck review.

Testing is conducted at one of STDcheck's 4,500 partner labs nationwide. These are typically Labcorp or Quest Diagnostics. Depending on your location, you may have limited access to partner labs or only have access to labs with poor service and performance. If this is the case, we strongly recommend at-home testing.

Unlike with at-home alternatives, once you get your results, you’re on your own; STDcheck doesn’t offer free consultations if you test positive. If you want to speak with an STDcheck doctor, you’ll pay an additional $95, which does not cover any of the cost of prescribed medication.

Currently, STDcheck physicians can only prescribe medication to treat trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea — not herpes. This is the same thing you’ll see with at-home alternatives, though.

Runner-up for in-lab testing: 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 (this test indicates how much DNA is present from virus replication)
  • 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. That said, PersonaLabs’ wide variety might make them a nice one-stop-shop if you have a lot of testing needs other companies can’t accommodate.

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.

In-office testing for herpes

When you need a doctor’s guidance (which may be before doing any at-home testing) 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, several issues may apply here:

  • Your primary care provider knows you so your results will not be anonymous nor as private as an at-home testing service.
  • This can be expensive if you don’t have insurance coverage.
  • 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, and one may not be available for days or weeks.
  • You’ll likely end up getting your blood drawn at a lab similar to those that in-lab companies like STDcheck use.

Online herpes treatment providers

Although it’s recommended that you seek medical treatment in person for a condition like herpes, especially if you have symptoms and frequent outbreaks, you may wish to seek treatment online for one reason or another. Perhaps you don’t have the time to go in person, or you don’t have prescription drug coverage — either way, online herpes treatment providers can help in these situations.

While there aren’t many online providers that offer at-home testing for herpes, several companies offer at-home treatment. This is especially useful when you consider that most testing companies — even when they offer treatment for some STDs — typically don’t offer treatment for herpes. The following services employ medical professionals who can provide you with a consultation and a prescription.


Wisp began as a discreet herpes treatment provider, and while the organization has expanded, it’s clearly stuck to its roots. This sexual health care service has a wide range of prescriptions for herpes care. It even breaks them down between cold sores and genital herpes, though most of the treatments are the same. Prescription treatments include:

  • Lidocaine pain cream
  • Antiviral pills (acyclovir and valacyclovir)
  • Antiviral cream (acyclovir)

The following non-prescription options have conflicting evidence on their effectiveness and, while they might be helpful, shouldn’t be considered true doctor-approved alternatives:

  • L-Lysine
  • Antiviral all-natural herbal supplements

You can order treatment once, at will, quarterly, or to take every day. You can pay per visit ($69) or have unlimited visits for $10/month (billed quarterly). The lidocaine cream, antiviral pills, and antiviral cream 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, though you can pay with HSAs or FSAs. If you’d like to use your insurance, it can send your prescription to a nearby pharmacy; the medication’s price may vary.


Nurx, a classic online birth control provider, has grown to offer genital herpes treatment, as well as treatment for UTIs, birth control, and more. It 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 upfront 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, Hers, & Ro

Hims, Hers, and Ro offer convenient online herpes treatment for men and women. Your consultation visit is free, and the consulting medical professional at these companies can prescribe valacyclovir to you. Our testing and research have shown that Ro offers the best prices for a wider variety of prescription strengths in valacyclovir, so we recommend you start there if you go this route.

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

FAQ about herpes testing



Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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