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 great value - a 5-in-1 test kit with trustworthy results in just a few days.
myLAB Box is a leading testing company. This kit tests you for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV (I and II) and trich, which together account for 71% of STIs.
Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: INNERBODY20
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.
Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: INNERBODY
- Why you should trust us
- What types of at-home STD tests are available?
- Multi-STD tests
- Individual STD tests
- How we choose our recommendations
- Why test for STDs?
- How often to get tested for STDs
- When to test and re-test
- Why you should consider testing with an at-home test kit
- STD Testing Company Snapshots
- How reliable are the tests?
- What is the at-home testing process?
- Are there any downsides to taking an STD test at home?
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 myLAB Box, LetsGetChecked, 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 myLAB Box. 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, myLAB Box has the best support, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Though the testing prices among the top three providers are similar, myLAB Box is currently offering a 20% discount on all tests, which will save you a lot of money. You must use Promo Code: INNERBODY20 when checking out.
All of the top providers offer single STD test kits that test for multiple STDs at once. These kits tend to be among the most popular and are often a smart choice for two reasons:
- It is fairly common for a person to be infected with more than one STD at the same time.
- In terms of price, these test panels save you money compared to buying multiple individual tests.
For instance, myLAB Box offers several popular multi-STD test kits: the Total Box, the Uber Box, the Safe Box, and the V-Box. You can see how these four tests compare below, with discounts you can get if you use our INNERBODY20 discount code.
|Total Box||Uber Box||Safe Box||V-Box|
|with Promo Code||$295||$215||$151||$151|
Sometimes the companies put numbers in the names of these test kits to indicate the number of STDs that the kit covers. But regardless of whether there’s a number in the name, all of our favorite companies make it easy to understand what you’re buying. At point of purchase, you’ll find prominent information about the tests in the kit and how you will collect your test specimen.
Which level of multi-test do we recommend? Generally speaking, the tests that cover chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and trichomoniasis (at a minimum) are the best combination of comprehensiveness and value. They are (in order of our preference): myLAB Box’s Safe Box, LetsGetChecked’s Standard 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 – and not just once, but periodically throughout life.
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 and the health of others. If not treated, some STDs can lead to serious health complications such as infertility, reproductive health problems or certain cancers.
STDs are very common
A staggering 50% of Americans will be infected by an STD by the time we’re age 25. While half of the 20 million Americans who get a sexually transmitted infection this year will likely be younger than 25, this also means that roughly 10 million of those people will be older than 25. If you are sexually active, testing matters, regardless of your age.
Unfortunately some STDs are notably on the rise in America. Cases of syphilis rose by 14% in just one year, according to the CDC’s latest data. Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have increased dramatically over the past five years. Cases of gonorrhea are higher now than at any time since the early ’90s.
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, 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.
Periodic testing is important for all sexually active people. The CDC’s advice for how often at minimum to test for STDs varies by the type of infection and also based on sexual behavior. Here is a handy chart breaking down their advice about the minimum amount of testing. Bear in mind, this is the minimum frequency – testing more frequently is always a good thing, and if you are experiencing any unusual or unpleasant symptoms then you should get tested as soon as possible, regardless of when you last got a test. Note for the chart below: “SA” means “Sexually active”.
|How often to test at minimum?||CDC recommends at least these tests:|
|All SA people||Yearly||HIV|
|SA women age <25||Yearly||Gonorrhea and chlamydia|
|Women age >25 w/ mult. partners||Yearly||Gonorrhea and chlamydia|
|Women age >25 w/ at-risk or infected partner||Yearly||Gonorrhea and chlamydia|
|Pregnant women||Early in pregnancy and periodically throughout||Syphilis, HIV, hep B|
|SA gay and bisexual men||Yearly||Syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV|
|SA gay and bisexual men w/ mult. partners||Every 3-6 months||Syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV|
One tricky aspect of STDs is that, even if you suspect recent sexual activity might have exposed you to infection, the different diseases have different incubation periods. For some STDs, you can get an accurate test result if you take the test a week after a particular sexual encounter, but other STDs require a little more time before your test will be useful for determining whether you contracted an infection from that encounter.
For some STDs, it’s also important to re-test after treatment, to make sure your course of treatment successfully cleared away the infection.
The chart below outlines incubation period for common STDs and indicates which ones require a re-test after treatment. This information is vital for keeping you safe and making sure you can use testing to safeguard your health most effectively.
|Incubation period||Need to retest?||If retest needed, when?|
|Chlamydia||1-5 days||2 weeks after treatment ends|
|Gonorrhea||2-6 days||2 weeks after treatment ends|
|Syphilis||3-6 weeks||3 months after treatment ends|
|Hep A||2-7 weeks (28 days avg)|
|Hep B||6 weeks|
|Hep C||8-9 weeks||3 months after first test|
|Oral herpes||4-6 weeks|
|Genital herpes||4-6 weeks|
|HIV (antibody test)||1-3 months|
|HIV (RNA test)||9-11 days|
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%.
After evaluating all the major at-home STD testing companies, as we have mentioned, four companies rose to the top: myLAB Box, LetsGetChecked, STDcheck, and Everlywell. Below you will find brief snapshots along with links to our full review of each of these companies.
We also wanted to mention that there are several STD testing companies that didn’t quite make it to the top of our list, but are still quality options nevertheless. Our “Honorable Mention” testing companies include Nurx, Personalabs, and Plushcare.
STD testing is something of a specialty for myLAB Box, because it used to be their sole focus. Recently they have been branching out into other testing areas unrelated to STDs as well. myLAB Box is overall just a great company. It tends to be our top choice since they have always excelled with STD testing and they continue to excel.
With myLAB Box, you can get convenient at-home testing whether your goal is testing for individual or multiple STDs. The chart earlier in this guide outlines what tests are included in their multi-test kits, which are an excellent value. All-told, myLAB Box gives you an easy way to test reliably for the following STDs:
- HIV (I and II)
- Chlamydia (genital, throat, rectal)
- Gonorrhea (genital, throat, rectal)
- Genital Herpes
- Trichomoniasis (trich)
- Mycoplasma genitalium
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Some of what we love about myLAB Box:
- Prices are competitive and two-way shipping is free.
- More comprehensive testing available for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- Robust testing of individual STDs available.
- Free consultation with a doctor if you test positive.
- Packaging is very discreet, adding to your privacy.
- Only partners with CLIA-certified labs.
- You get a 20% discount if you use the INNERBODY20 code while purchasing.
Learn more at our full myLAB Box review.
Our testers are consistently impressed by LetsGetChecked. We really like this company and you can’t go wrong with them either. Like myLAB Box, they offer a multitude of tests aside from STD testing, though they do not offer the same flexibility in terms of testing for individual STDs. In terms of STD testing, you can conveniently order the following test kits from LetsGetChecked:
- Herpes Test
- Hepatitis B & C
- Simple 2
- Basic 3
- Standard 5
- Complete 10
The final four tests on that list (with the numbers in their names) are LetsGetChecked’s multi-STD tests. Here is a handy chart with a breakdown of what tests these kits include (note: promo code pricing is available to you when you use promo code INNERBODY during purchase):
|Complete 10||Standard 5||Basic 3||Simple 2|
|with Promo Code||$215||$119||$95||$79|
|Herpes Simplex (I&II)|
Visit our full LetsGetChecked review for more details.
Everlywell is a home testing giant that offers a dizzying array of different tests, many of which we recommend highly (for more information on them, visit our Everlywell review). What Everlywell offers in the way of STD testing is not as extensive as other companies like myLAB Box and LetsGetChecked. Everlywell’s tests are high quality, but you can find more thorough STD testing with the other companies.
In addition to what you see in the chart below, Everlywell also offers individual testing for hepatitis C, syphilis and trichomoniasis. (Note that you can get the promo code prices if you use our INNERBODY15 code at purchase.)
|STD Test - Female||STD Test - Male||Chlamydia & Gonorrhea||HIV Test|
|with Promo Code||$169||$169||$33||$33|
The male test panel utilizes urine and blood for its samples, while the female test kit relies on a vaginal swab.
Everlywell’s HIV test is less expensive than STDcheck or myLAB Box, for instance, but this test only checks for antibodies rather than the dual-action test for antibodies and antigens. It will not be useful for testing as early as the 4th generation test available from the other companies.
STDcheck is one of the largest STD companies in the nation, if not the largest. And as their name implies, they focus on STD testing.
They have a different model though. Rather than at-home testing, you order your test at home and then come in to a local testing site that partners with STDcheck, of which there are thousands spread across the country. You then receive your results and (if positive) consult with a doctor from the convenience of home.
Most customers find that there is a very convenient site nearby, but you can find out for yourself first by entering your zip code into the website. For those of you who would rather get tested by quickly visiting a lab near you, STDcheck is the way to go and we could not recommend them more highly.
With STDcheck, you can test for:
- Hepatitis A, B and C
- Herpes 1 and 2
- HIV 1 and 2
HIV testing really sets STDcheck apart from the pack. They offer two great ways to test for HIV:
- The HIV I & II (4th generation) test works reliably as soon as a month after exposure. You’ll get results within 1-2 days and can consult with a doctor over the phone if your test is positive. This test can find HIV infection sooner than older versions of HIV tests, because it looks not only for antibodies but also antigens. The antigens can be detected sooner, when antibody levels are still low.
- The HIV RNA early detection test is a fantastic option for very early HIV testing, providing reliable results as soon as 11 days after exposure.
Below is a summary of what is included in the STDcheck multi-test kits.
|10 Test Panel||10 Test Panel (w/ Early Detection)||Chlamydia & Gonorrhea||Herpes I & II|
|with Current Deal||$188||$339||$119||$120|
Please check out our full STDcheck review to learn more about the company.
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.