The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are almost 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year. STD infections can persist for an extended period of time, and most people are not aware they are infected until advanced symptoms appear. According to a recent CDC study, “STD screening is critical” in effectively stemming their spread. When caught early, most STDs can be cured or at least managed with proper treatment.
Summary of our top recommended STD tests:
Luckily, with the proliferation of many new direct-to-consumer STD test kit providers, screening yourself or a loved one in the privacy of your own home has never been easier. We tested and evaluated each test from the top providers. The guide below was designed to share with you what we learned and help you find the best STD test to ensure your future health!
A solid STD test that offers the right trade-off between value and comprehensiveness.
LetsGetChecked is a highly respected at-home testing company that receives high ratings in terms of Value, Accuracy, Privacy, and Customer Support.
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Innerbody.com recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. The primary author of this guide is a former Influenza Virologist who has a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
This guide, like all medical-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for medical accuracy. We try our best to give you, our readers, unbiased, marketing-jargon-free description of the STD tests described based on the latest scientific evidence.
The first thing to consider when choosing an STD home test is whether you want to take a multi-disease test or whether you want to test for a specific STD. Generally, unless you are experiencing specific symptoms or have reason to believe that you may have been exposed to a specific STD, the multi-disease tests would likely be your best option.
However, as you might expect, the individual tests are almost always less expensive. If you are in doubt, we recommend getting the advice of your own physician.
Of all the companies that offer STD test kits online, our three favorites are LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box, and EverlyWell. You cannot go wrong with any of these companies, as they are all rated highly in terms of accuracy, privacy, and customer service.
If we were pressed to pick a favorite, we would have to choose LetsGetChecked. We especially like this company for three reasons:
It uses the most advanced blood sampling method, capillary testing, which is painless and leads to the highest degree of accuracy.
In the event that you test positive, LetsGetChecked has the best support, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Though the testing prices among the top three providers are similar, LetsGetChecked is currently offering a 20% discount on all tests, which will save you a lot of money. You must use Promo Code: INNERBODY when checking out.
All three of the top providers offer single STD tests that test for multiple STDs at once. Usually, the tests have a number in their names. That number refers to how many individual STDs the test screens for.
|Complete 10||Standard 5||Basic 3||Simple 2|
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|Herpes Simplex (I&II)|
Which level of multi-test do we recommend? Generally speaking, the “Standard” tests that cover, at a minimum, the five most common STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis) are the best combination of comprehensiveness and value. They are (in order of our preference): LetsGetChecked’s Standard 5, myLAB Box’s Safe Box 5, and EverlyWell’s Basic STD Test.
If you are the type of person who requires no stone be left unturned, you may want to spring for the most comprehensive tests, mainly LetsGetChecked’s Complete 10 or myLAB Box’s Total Box 14. These tests can get up there in price but are actually a decent deal if you take into account how much testing for each STD individually would cost.
Human Papilloma viruses (HPVs) are sexually transmitted viruses that can cause chronic infections and warts. Some strains can even cause cancer if left untreated. The tests you will want to take a look at include the myLAB Box Cervical Cancer Screening [see latest price], the LetsGetChecked HPV Test [see latest price], and the EverlyWell HPV Test - Female [see latest price].
Hepatitis C is a disease that affects the liver, and it can be contracted through exchange of bodily fluids. Hepatitis is one of the leading causes of liver cancer and can often produce no symptoms, meaning that patients can have the disease for many years before getting diagnosed. Both myLAB Box [see latest price] and EverlyWell [see latest price] offer standalone hepatitis C tests.
HIV is a viral infection that attacks the body’s immune system. By killing off immune cells, HIV causes weakened immunity and can make the infected individual much more susceptible to other infections and diseases. HIV cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed. It is crucial to detect the virus early to ensure that AIDS does not develop. If you take one (or a number) of these tests and receive a positive test result, many providers will offer a free retest to confirm the result. Both myLAB Box [see latest price] and EverlyWell [see latest price] offer standalone HIV tests.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that does not always produce symptoms. It’s important to screen for chlamydia routinely, as it can cause serious health problems, and it is thankfully very easy to test for. Both myLAB Box [see latest price] and EverlyWell [see latest price] offer standalone chlamydia tests. LetsGetChecked [see latest price] offers the Simple 2 test which tests for both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that, if left untreated, can cause serious health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease. Both myLAB Box [see latest price] and EverlyWell [see latest price] offer standalone gonorrhea tests. LetsGetChecked [see latest price] offers the Simple 2 test which tests for both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
Herpes is a viral infection that can be caused by two types of viruses. Often referred to as oral or genital herpes, the viruses often produce cold sores and painful blister-like sores on the genitals and anus. There is no cure for herpes, but treatment can help infected individuals cope with the virus and minimize the possibility of spreading the infection to others. Both LetsGetChecked [see latest price] and myLAB Box [see latest price] offer standalone herpes tests (and only for genital herpes).
We customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related test. For STD test kits, both individual and multi-test panels, we have five areas that we use to evaluate and ultimately form our recommended tests. They are:
Accuracy: Do the testing companies use the latest and most accurate testing technologies available? How accurate are the tests compared to alternatives?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the test provider offer discounts to our readers?
Customer Support: How well does the testing company help you choose the best test? How clearly are the results presented? How well does the testing company help you understand results and get treatment if necessary?
Privacy: Are all test kits sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?
Test Results Speed: How fast will you receive your test results from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the testing companies accurate and consistent?
There are many reasons why you should get tested for STDs. Here are some of them:
It is part of preventive health care
Everyone deserves a healthy body, mind, and sex life. Getting yourself tested for STDs is one of the primary things you can do to improve and protect your general health. If not treated, some STDs can lead to serious health complications such as infertility, reproductive health problems or certain cancers.
Most STDs can be treated
The sooner you know that you are infected, the sooner you can undergo treatment. As with many diseases, early diagnosis of an STD means that any treatment is more likely to be successful. If the infection goes undetected for extended periods of time undetected, effective treatment becomes more challenging and complicated, and the chances of reversing the damage are much lower.
Some STDs show no symptoms
Many STDs go unnoticed. You can’t tell someone has an STD just by looking at them. Most are asymptomatic, at least until the later stages of illness. For example, on average, people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) do not develop symptoms for a couple of years. The only way to prevent future complications is to get tested regularly to ensure early detection is more likely.
You can only be certain that you have been infected with an STD if you get tested. If you are worried about acquiring an STD and are too busy or embarrassed to visit a clinic to get tested, collecting a sample within the privacy of your own home could be a better option.
By choosing an at-home test, you no longer need to book an appointment with your healthcare professional, and your sample collection kit will arrive straight through your mail, meaning that it won’t affect your daily routine.
Most people, especially young adults, are embarrassed about discussing STDs; others don’t want the stigma that’s associated with getting an STD test. With home test kits, anyone can collect a sample and get reliable results without involving a healthcare professional, and it can be done in the privacy of their own home.
According to research, home test kits are accurate and reliable with a specificity of 95% to 98% and sensitivity of 98% to 99%.
While some companies sell kits that are FDA-approved, others claim that although their tests aren’t FDA-approved, their tests use “FDA-approved technology.” Most companies partner with laboratories that are certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). If your results are negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re STD-free. Incubation periods vary for STDs, so if you’ve recently been exposed, it may mean that the STD can’t be detected yet. This is one reason why it’s important to test for STDs regularly. Companies remind patients that tests are meant to provide information and education, not to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Tests shouldn’t replace a consultation with a healthcare provider. It’s recommended that you share your results with your doctor to obtain medical advice and treatment.
The whole testing process is pretty simple and straightforward. Once you choose which test to take, place the order. Your testing kit should arrive in the mail in 3-5 business days.
Follow the instructions carefully and take your sample. Usually, it is either a urine sample, a pin-prick blood sample, or a vaginal swab.
Send the sample to the lab in the pre-paid postage box that is included. Within 5 business days, you should receive an email that your results are available for viewing online.
Taking a test ordered online is very similar to taking a test administered by a local lab clinic or your own doctor. The sample extraction process is essentially the same. In fact, in many cases, the actual lab that evaluates your sample could be very similar, regardless of which type of test you choose.
There are some important differences to be aware of, however. First, although many of our favorite at-home STD testing companies (LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box, EverlyWell, etc.) give you “virtual” access to medical professionals throughout the purchasing and testing process, there is something to be said for speaking to someone face to face. If you are the type of person who prefers that in-person interaction, we recommend that you get tested in a physical clinic. Our top-rated in-person test provider is STDcheck, by the way. It’s outstanding and has over 4,000 testing centers throughout the U.S.
One other thing to keep in mind is that many people get tested for STDs by their own doctor (or a lab that your doctor refers you to). If you are using the convenience of testing for STDs from home as a way, consciously or subconsciously, to avoid regular check-ups with your primary care physician, we recommend that you just take the opportunity to visit your doctor.