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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that an individual can contract from another person through sexual contact. Many companies offer home testing kits for STIs.

This article explores the different types of home STI tests, with some products to consider. It will also look at some pros and cons of using these home tests.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.

There are two types of at-home STI tests: self-collection and lab-based tests.

Self-collection

After receiving their test kit from an online provider, people can take the STI test with all the provided tools. These may include needles, tubes, alcohol swabs, and a prepaid envelope, among others. An individual might need to take a blood or urine sample or a rectal, oral, or vaginal swab, depending on the STI test they are undergoing. They then return their sample to a testing center.

Lab-based

Individuals receive a lab requisition and present it to a testing facility, where a healthcare provider performs the test.

Individuals generally receive results from both tests via email or through the company’s patient portal within a few days.

People may also purchase individual tests that they can use to test for one STI or a kit that tests for multiple conditions.

The National Coalition of STD Directors states that home tests undergo validation testing to help ensure their accuracy. Companies also need to make sure that the shipping and stability of samples in transit do not affect the integrity of tests.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) has established the quality standards for laboratory testing and an accreditation program for clinical laboratories.

However, not all online testing companies have received certification with CLIA. Therefore, a person may wish to look for this certification when looking for tests to buy to verify their accuracy and quality.

The CDC mentions that STI tests may be beneficial for people who may have an increased chance of contracting an infection. They include:

  • sexually active people
  • those that do not use barrier methods such as condoms
  • pregnant people

The CDC also states that taking an STI test during pregnancy may help prevent complications.

It is important to note that STIs do not always trigger symptoms. However, people may take a test if they experience:

Individuals may wish to undergo a test if they believe they have had exposure to an STI.

Some advantages of home tests, compared with lab tests, include:

  • greater privacy
  • quick and easy to retest if the result is positive
  • companies use discreet packaging
  • many kits test for multiple STIs at once

Some disadvantages include:

  • potential delay in sending and receiving samples
  • some companies may not offer consultations
  • difficulty in interpreting results
  • no immediate treatment

The CDC states that chlamydia is the most common STI in the United States, which can affect people regardless of their sex.

According to Planned Parenthood, it can cause:

The CDC states that those who receive a diagnosis for chlamydia should take another test 3 months after treatment. This is because retests may prevent onward transmission and complications.

Sexual partners of a person who receives testing should also undergo testing and treatment if required, so the infection does not pass back and forth or on to others.

Learn more about chlamydia here.

Two home tests for chlamydia include:

HealthLabs

HealthLabs offers lab-based testing, so once people receive the lab requisition form, they can take it to one of their 4,500 testing centers. They claim their laboratories are CLIA-certified, meaning they have obtained federal certifications.

People may choose to provide a blood or urine sample — the latter can check for bacterial infections in the urogenital area.

The blood test checks whether a person has contracted a nongenital chlamydia infection. It detects Chlamydia trachomatis antibodies and may also reveal past chlamydia infections.

Individuals generally receive their results within 1–2 business days.

QuestDirect

QuestDirect’s self-collection home testing kits look for both chlamydia and gonorrhea.

There is an additional charge that may cover laboratory tests and follow-up consultations.

Once they receive their home kit, people may collect their sample and return it in a prepaid, preaddressed envelope. Results are typically available within 7 business days through the company’s patient portal.

The platform claims that its laboratories have certification with CLIA and the College of American Pathologists.

According to health experts, people with syphilis may have sores, rashes, and ulcers on the genitals and mouth. Without treatment, the condition can lead to blindness and paralysis.

Learn about the four types of home syphilis tests here.

Two home tests for syphilis include:

Everlywell

Everlywell offers a finger prick sample collection, providing individuals with all the tools they need to take the test at home. After mailing the sample to one of their CLIA-certified testing facilities, people may receive their results on the company’s platform.

If a person requires regular testing, they may consider subscribing to the membership plan to save up to 49% off the cost of separate tests.

The company claims their tests feature 99% accuracy, and if an individual receives a positive result, a physician may contact them to discuss the next steps.

Personalabs

Personalabs offers lab-based home STI testing, with the help of around 2,300 lab testing centers across the U.S.

After purchasing a home test kit, people receive a requisition order that they may have to present at the testing center. Once they provide a blood sample, they generally receive their results within 2–10 business days.

Personalabs recommends taking a test if a person does not use any barrier methods each time they engage in sexual behavior.

Those with possible syphilis symptoms or who have had sexual contact with a person who has received a diagnosis should also undergo testing.

Personalabs states that they work with Quest Diagnostics and that their testing centers are in line with federal certifications.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV attacks a person’s immune system. People who have contracted the virus may have an increased risk of developing other infections or diseases. Without treatment, an individual may go on to develop AIDS.

Learn how to test for HIV with an at-home test kit here.

One option for at-home HIV testing includes the below.

OraQuick

OraQuick offers an at-home HIV test kit that only detects antibodies after more than 3 months of exposure to the virus.

This is the only at-home oral HIV test with approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The test kit includes a test stick that people use to swab their upper and lower gums. They then insert this into the test tube and read the result within 20–40 minutes.

Many of the brands in this article, such as Everlywell, HealthLabs, and Personalabs, offer a range of different STI tests, including options for specific conditions such as herpes, trichomoniasis, or hepatitis.

Some companies also sell specialist STI tests. For example, QuestDirect offers STI tests for use during pregnancy.

Many of these brands also have comprehensive STI tests that test for multiple STIs simultaneously. This is usually a more expensive option but is more convenient and useful in some cases.

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked offers a range of multiple STI tests in collaboration with CLIA-certified laboratories.

They provide a self-collection type of testing, meaning individuals collect their sample at home and return it on the same day.

Those who require regular STI testing may purchase the subscription plan to save up to 30% off the price of separate tests.

People generally receive their results within 2–5 days. They may also contact the company’s nurses at any time if they wish to discuss their results and treatment.

Those receiving a positive test for an STI should seek medical advice. A doctor may suggest a treatment plan that may help alleviate symptoms and reduce the chances of spreading the infection.

People should also consider speaking with a healthcare professional if they wish to discuss their sexual health concerns, such as their risk of STIs.

An at-home STI test may be a suitable option for people who wish to undergo convenient and discreet testing. Home tests may offer test bundles, consultations, and retests, while results are generally available within a few days.

People should always follow the company’s instructions to increase the chances of getting an accurate result.