Getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)— also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — is super important. Whether you dread the idea of going to a clinic to get a test done or you simply don’t have the time, doing an at-home STD test is a much more convenient (and private) option.
Since most STIs are asymptomatic (meaning you may not have any symptoms even when you have an infection), regular screening and early detection is the first step to prevention and treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested every 3 to 12 months, depending on how sexually active you are and how many sexual partners you have. Sexually active adults under 25 should get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea at least once a year (yes, even if you're in an exclusive relationship). If you have new or multiple sex partners, it’s recommended to get tested more often. As a general rule, you should get tested every 3 months (or every time you have had unprotected sex with a new partner) or every year if you’re in a monogamous relationship.
At-home STD testing makes it much easier to get tested for sexually transmitted infections without having to find a clinic or schedule an appointment that doesn't interfere with work or school. One of the biggest barriers to STD testing is stigma and shame, so at-home tests also offer a level of privacy and agency that can take the discomfort out of the whole thing (not that you should ever feel embarrassed about looking after your sexual health!).
Remember that it’s important that your sexual partner(s) also get tested and treated, too!
Curious about how at-home STD tests work? Keep on reading to learn more.
Can you test for STIs at home?
You can test for most STIs at home. Fun fact: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) home test back in 1996 — so at-home STD tests have been around for a while.
Depending on what you’re testing for, most STI tests will require urine, vagina and/or anal fluid (using a swab that looks similar to a Q-tip), or a small blood sample.
What STIs can you test for at home?
There are over 30 known types of STIs, and although you can’t test for all of them at home, at-home tests can screen for the most common STDs, including:
Evvy currently offers a comprehensive test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, Mycoplasma genitalium, 11 common microbes, and more. With an Evvy Membership, you can also stay proactive by getting our at-home STD test delivered to your door every 3 months!
Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as pubic lice and genital warts, can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider. Your doctor will need to perform an exam to check for lice or warts on your skin.
How accurate are at-home STD tests?
When done correctly, an at-home STD test is as accurate as an in-clinic test. When you think about it, the only real difference is that you’re collecting your own sample rather than a doctor or nurse. No STI test is 100% foolproof, but data shows that at-home test kits are just as accurate as tests carried out by a healthcare provider (90% accuracy).
Research also found that at-home STD test kits are an effective way to increase the number of people that are testing for STDs, which is key to preventing the spread of infections. So not only are home STI test kits accurate, but they also make it easier for people to stay on top of their sexual health!
When ordering an at-home STD test, check the test’s credentials. The Evvy Vaginal Health Test is a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-validated test performed at a CAP, CLEP, and CLIA-certified lab.
Pros and cons of using an at-home STI test kit
Some of the advantages of using a home STD test are:
- Comfort: you can take the test in your own home.
- Convenience: you don’t have to wait for an appointment and travel to the doctor's office while juggling work or school commitments.
- Privacy: not everyone feels comfortable talking about their sex life or health history with a doctor.
- Accessibility: people living with disabilities or chronic pain might find it hard to travel to a clinic to get tested.
- Agency: sexual and reproductive health appointments can be nerve-wracking or downright triggering for some people. Doing the test yourself might put you more at ease.
Some of the disadvantages of taking a home STD test, on the other hand, include:
- Cost: you will have to pay out of pocket if your health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of at-home STD tests.
- Reassurance: some people prefer having in-person interactions with their clinicians so they can ask questions about treatment options.
How to test for STDs at home
At-home STD tests are an easy and convenient way to get tested, with no sterile clinic waiting rooms in sight. All you have to do is collect the samples yourself, send them to a lab in a prepaid envelope, and receive the results within a few days.
STD test kits vary slightly from one provider or brand to the other but don't worry, they're all fairly straightforward. Most will ask you to provide either a vaginal or urine sample, and for some STDs, you may need to provide a finger-prick blood sample.
Each Evvy Vaginal Health Test kits include a swab (which looks like a long Q-tip), a collection tube with a Test ID sticker, a biosafety bag, a pre-paid return box, and a set of detailed instructions.
Taking the test is easy. Here’s how to do Evvy’s at-home STD test:
- Unwrap the swab, being careful not to touch the swab end with your hands or any surface, and insert it into the vagina (1-2 inches deep).
- Move the swab in several full circles along the vaginal walls for 20 seconds, making sure all sides of the swab tip are covered in a sample.
- Remove the swab from the vagina and insert it (swab-end first) into the collection tube. Snap off the end of the swab stick at the breakpoint, and screw the cap onto the collection tube.
- Follow the instructions in your test kit for sending back the swab with the included pre-paid return mailer.
That’s it! Once your sample arrives in the lab, you should receive preliminary test results within 1-3 days.
What should I do if I test positive for an STI?
If you test positive, don't panic — most STIs are treated with antibiotics. Evvy offers fast and confidential treatment options for all the STIs that we test for.
FAQs about At-Home STD Tests
What STD can be detected by urine test?
Urine tests can detect STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. If you have a vagina, a vaginal swab is the preferred way to test for STIs.
Where to buy at-home STD test
You can buy at-home STD tests over the counter in some pharmacies or order them online. Unlike most at-home STD tests, the Evvy Vaginal Health Test is the most comprehensive test on the market. It screens for the bacteria that cause most common STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis), as well as 11 of the most common pathogens that cause vaginal infections.
Should I get tested for STDs even if I have no symptoms?
Yes! Most STIs and STDs are asymptomatic (meaning you don’t have any symptoms) or only cause mild symptoms that can go unnoticed — so you shouldn’t wait for symptoms to show up before getting tested. That's why regular STI testing is so important. As a general rule, you should get tested every 3 months (or every time you have had unprotected sex with a new partner) or every year if you’re in a monogamous relationship.
Are STIs and STDs the same thing?
In this article, we use the terms STD and STI interchangeably — both terms mean the same thing. STD stands for "sexually transmitted disease," and STI stands for "sexually transmitted infection." While some healthcare professionals prefer to use STI because it carries less stigma, others might be more familiar with the term STD. Regardless of the word used, both refer to infections transmitted through sexual contact.