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A person can screen themselves for human papillomavirus (HPV) with a home HPV test. Studies suggest that home HPV tests are as accurate as those that doctors provide, but they may not test for all strains of HPV.

HPV facts at a glance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It estimates that approximately 42 million people in the United States currently have an HPV infection, while a further 13 million individuals contract the virus each year.

Home HPV tests typically provide a swab so that a person can collect a small sample from their cervix or vagina. They then send the sample back to a laboratory that tests for several high risk strains of HPV.

A person can also visit a doctor’s office to receive testing for HPV. They can also get a vaccination against HPV.

Alternatively, an individual can try an at-home test, which may provide a more accessible option for those with busy schedules or limited access to clinics or health insurance.

People should not test for HPV before the age of 25. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends individuals undergo an HPV test every 5 years until they are 65 years old.

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A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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The table below compares the five HPV home test kits this article describes.

TestWhy we chose itOne-time purchase priceSample typeResults turnaround
TBD Healthbest for customer follow-up support$125vaginal swab3–5 business days
Everlywellmost affordable$49vaginal swab5–7 days
Nurxbest for people with insurance$79 without insurance

$49 with insurance
vaginal swab7 days
myLAB Boxbest for fast results$89vaginal swab2–5 days

Medical News Today chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria where possible:

  • Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
  • Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
  • Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
  • Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.
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HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. While 90% of HPV resolves by itself within 2 years, some people may develop genital warts or even cervical cancer.

The FDA has not approved any tests to find HPV in the throat or mouth. The CDC also states that no test determines a person’s HPV status.

HPV testing by age

HPV testing is not the same as a PAP smear. Healthcare professionals use a PAP smear to swab cells to check for changes that HPV may cause, whereas HPV testing checks cells for evidence of high risk HPV types.

According to the NCI, females should receive their first HPV testing when they turn 25. Then, they should receive testing every 5 years until they reach 65.

Females need a PAP smear every 3 years starting from age 21. After a person reaches age 30, healthcare professionals will continue cancer screening with one of the following methods:

  • an HPV test every 5 years
  • an HPV test and PAP smear every 5 years
  • a PAP smear every 3 years

People older than 65 may no longer need HPV tests or PAP smears, unless recent test results are atypical or if a person did not receive regular screening.

Who needs more regular HPV testing?

The NCI states that people who meet the following criteria may need more regular cancer screening:

  • having HIV
  • having immune system issues
  • having had exposure to the drug diethylstilbestrol before birth
  • a recent atypical cervical screening test or biopsy
  • having previously had cervical cancer

In a 2019 study, researchers found that collecting and testing preservative-fixed urine samples may offer a reliable way to screen at-risk populations for HPV. However, larger studies are necessary to prove the effectiveness of urine-based HPV testing fully.

Additionally, the NCI states that HPV is a group of over 200 related viruses with 12 high risk types that may cause cancer — and at-home HPV tests do not test for all strains of HPV.

Learn more about HPV.

Companies that make at-home HPV tests warn that, if possible, people should not use them in place of regular PAP smears or other screenings.

Increasing access to testing

Preliminary studies suggest home HPV testing can help improve outcomes for people who otherwise may not be able to receive regular screenings.

One 2018 study concludes that self-samples from home HPV tests were as accurate as clinician samples. The researchers also state these self-sample kits are effective in reaching underscreened women.

Additionally, a 2019 study states that mailing home kits to women who otherwise may not be able to access regular testing helped increase the number of cervical cancer screenings. The researchers recommend further studies on how to send out testing kits most effectively.

A 2020 randomized study found similar results, with the researchers suggesting that self sampling was more cost effective than clinic-based testing.


  • At-home tests may be more convenient than visiting a doctor’s office.
  • They may allow more people to access HPV testing.
  • People may consider them less invasive.
  • Pricing is clear, with typically no hidden doctor or laboratory fees.
  • Some research suggests these tests may be as reliable as doctors’ tests.


  • A person may interpret their results without guidance from a doctor.
  • Not all companies offer follow-up advice or care.
  • Health insurance does not typically cover the cost of at-home tests.
  • If a person receives a positive result, they must contact their doctor and may need follow-up testing.
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People should consider the following factors when choosing an at-home HPV test:

  • Collection method: Some tests may only be suitable for females. A person needs to carefully read which collection method a test requires and choose one suitable for their anatomy.
  • Payment methods: Health insurance is unlikely to cover at-home HPV tests. A person must read the company’s website carefully to see if it accepts their health insurance and whether it accepts FSA and HSA payments.
  • Lab certifications: People must prioritize buying tests from companies that use CLIA-certified labs to analyze samples.
  • Follow-up advice: Some companies may offer follow-up advice from healthcare professionals. A person may feel more comfortable purchasing a test from a company that offers this service.

People can expect to receive either a negative or positive HPV test result. They need to discuss their result with a doctor regardless of the outcome.

Negative result

If a person receives a negative result and does not have any symptoms, it is unlikely that they have HPV. A healthcare professional will advise a person on when they should retest.

If an individual receives a negative test result but is experiencing HPV symptoms, such as small, raised warts on and around the genitals, they may wish to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional may recommend undergoing another test.

Positive result

If a person receives a positive test result, they should contact a doctor for the next steps.

While there is no cure for HPV, medical professionals may be able to offer treatment for genital warts.

Learn more about HPV treatment.

A person may wish to consult with a doctor to undergo regular sexual health screenings.

HPV may not always cause symptoms. However, the CDC states that symptoms can include small, raised warts on the genitals. If an individual notices any new growths on or around their genitals, they may wish to seek medical assistance.

The CDC also recommends that people get the HPV vaccine to protect against this STI. This vaccine is suitable for children ages 9 years and older and adults up to age 26.

Older adults who have not previously received the HPV vaccine may also wish to speak with a doctor about getting vaccinated.

If a person receives a positive result from a home HPV test kit, they need to contact a doctor as soon as possible. A healthcare professional will conduct additional tests and advise on the individual’s next steps.

A person may wish to purchase an at-home HPV test if they believe they or a sexual partner has HPV.

Additionally, an at-home HPV test may be more convenient for those who cannot access an in-person healthcare visit.

At-home HPV tests often require a cervical or vaginal swab for females. Companies may require urine samples from males.

People need to carefully read the company’s website and test instructions to determine what sample is necessary to test for HPV.

At-home HPV tests may be of similar accuracy to the those a doctor may perform.

However, at-home HPV tests may not test for all strains of HPV. Additionally, a person should not use these tests as a replacement for a Pap smear or other health screenings.

Yes, it is possible to test for HPV at home. People can buy an HPV test from an online testing company such as Nurx or Everlywell.

A more accessible and affordable test is a vinegar test. This can indicate the presence of HPV by turning genital warts white. A person applies a small amount of vinegar to the genital area using a cotton swab. If there are any invisible genital warts present, these will turn white within minutes.

This test is an affordable and accessible alternative to lab HPV tests that scientists developed to help females in developing countries access HPV testing.

The best HPV test is one that tests for a wide range of high risk strains of HPV. The best at-home HPV tests will offer access to a medical team for advice, discreet shipping, and fast turnaround times for results.

Yes, people can self-swab for HPV. At-home test kits provide a vaginal swab that a person must use to send a sample to a laboratory.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that does not always exhibit symptoms. Without treatment, some strains can lead to cancer. Several home HPV tests are available that can help detect high risk strains of HPV. However, home tests should not replace routine Pap smear tests or screenings.

A person can order an at-home HPV test online, perform it at home, and send it back to a laboratory to receive their results. Health experts claim that home HPV testing may help expand access to important sexual health screenings.

People at risk of contracting HPV may wish to consider getting regular sexual health screenings with a doctor, as not all home HPV tests screen for every type of HPV.