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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common, especially in people aged 15–24 years. There are several low cost STI tests a person can perform in the comfort of their home. Additionally, certain local organizations may offer free or low cost testing.
A quick look at free or low cost home STI tests
- Best for ongoing medical support: Nurx
- Best for the lowest price: Everlywell
- Best for free prescriptions: LetsGetChecked
- Best for a selection of STI tests: MyLabBox
- Best for lab sample collection: PrioritySTD
- Best for fast results: STDcheck
STIs are common. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that
This article discusses what home STI testing is, how often a person should test, and where a person can go to find free or low-cost STI testing.
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.
Some organizations may offer free or low-cost STI tests.
According to Planned Parenthood, health insurance, Medicaid, and other government assistance programs can provide free STI testing. Additionally, some Planned Parenthood centers offer free or low-cost testing depending on a person’s income.
Additionally, Get Tested provides a database of places that offer free or low-cost STI testing, including screens for HIV and hepatitis. People can enter their state, city, or ZIP code to find local centers.
However, people can also purchase low-cost STI tests to perform in the privacy of their own homes.
Home STI testing is similar to the testing a person receives in a doctor’s office or healthcare clinic. These tests screen for the presence of infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Learn more about the best at-home STI tests here.
To perform a test, a person collects their sample, which is usually a urine, blood, or swab sample, and then sends it off to a lab. Testing at home may be more convenient and private than testing in a clinic, and some companies offer care and advice if a person receives a positive test result.
While there may be some loss of accuracy when taking a home test, if a person follows the instructions on the test kit carefully, home test results are generally reliable. The
Testing for STIs is important to prevent transmitting an infection to sexual partners.
Additionally, STIs can cause complications. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea
Pregnant people who have an STI can
Not all STIs have symptoms. It is important for people to test regularly to ensure that they and their sexual partners receive any treatment necessary to protect their health.
Everyone should receive testing if they believe they are at risk of having contracted an STI or if they show symptoms of an STI.
Symptoms may include an unusual color, odorous discharge, or pain while urinating. However, people can have STIs without having symptoms and should receive testing if a sexual partner discloses that they have an infection. STI testing is more accurate after the infection is in the detection period.
Some populations should receive regular testing to minimize the risk of complications. We outline these groups in greater detail below.
Learn more about STI testing here.
The following table describes how long after exposure STI tests generally start yielding reliable results:
|Hepatitis B||3–6 weeks|
|Hepatitis C||6 months|
|HPV||3 weeks to several months|
|HIV (mouth swab)||3 months|
|HIV (blood test)||6 weeks|
How often should you test?
|What to test for||How often to test|
|People aged 13–64 years||HIV||at least once|
|People who are pregnant||• HIV|
• hepatitis B
• hepatitis C
|Males who have sex with males||• chlamydia|
• hepatitis C
• every 3–6 months, if they have several partners
• annually for hepatitis C, if they have HIV
|Sexually active females under 25 years||• gonorrhea|
|Sexually active females over 25 years||• gonorrhea|
|annually, if they have multiple partners or a partner with an STI|
|People who inject drugs||HIV||annually|
While each company may have slightly different instructions, home STI tests generally require:
- collecting samples, which may involve a finger prick blood test, genital swab, or urine collection
- placing the samples in a prepaid envelope and sending them off to a lab
- waiting several days for the test results
Companies will provide detailed instructions on how to collect a sample correctly. If a person finds it difficult to perform a finger prick test, they may wish to ask a friend or family member for help.
Some companies will also offer follow-up care and advice if a person receives a positive test result.
Types of results
Usually, home tests will return one of the following results:
- Positive or detected: This means the lab has detected the presence of an STI in a person’s sample.
- Negative or not detected: This means the test has not detected the presence of an STI.
- Indeterminate: This may mean a person has not collected a sample correctly. People should contact the company for more advice if they receive this result.
How long do results take?
The length of time it takes a company to return results depends on the type of test a person takes and the company that offers it.
However, people can typically expect home STI test results around a week after the lab receives their samples.
Medical News Today chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria:
- Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in
CLIA-certifiedlabs. 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 of 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.
Below are some lower-cost home STI tests available to purchase online.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best for ongoing medical support: Nurx
- Price: $29.50 with insurance, $150–220 without
- Packaging: discrete, with free shipping
- Results time: 7 business days
- Pros: provides ongoing medical support
- Cons: expensive without insurance
This home STI testing service offers three different testing kits.
The Basics Covered Kit screens for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
The Healthy V Kit is a test for people with vaginas. It screens for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
The Full Control Kit screens for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis C.
The company charges a $15 fee, which includes 1 year’s worth of unlimited messaging with its medical team.
Best for the lowest price: Everlywell
- Price: $49–149
- Packaging: discrete
- Results time: within days
- Pros: accepts FSA and HSA payments
- Cons: does not accept insurance
Everlywell sells tests for specific STIs and offers panel tests.
It offers tests specifically for males and females. Both options screen for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
The company also offers a subscription service to make frequent testing more affordable. Additionally, Everlywell offers some of the most affordable STI testing for those without insurance.
Learn more about Everlywell here.
Best for free prescriptions: LetsGetChecked
- Price: $99–249
- Packaging: discrete
- Results time: 2–5 days
- Pros: offers free prescriptions with positive results in 40 states
- Cons: free prescriptions not available in 10 states
LetsGetChecked offers three STI testing kits.
The Simple 2 tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The Standard 5 tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV, and syphilis.
The Complete 8 tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV, syphilis, Gardnerella, mycoplasma, and ureaplasma.
In 40 states, if a person tests positive for chlamydia, trichomoniasis, Gardnerella, mycoplasma, or ureaplasma, the company will provide prescriptions at no extra charge.
Learn more about LetsGetChecked here.
Best for a selection of STI tests: MyLabBox
- Price: $59–399
- Packaging: discrete
- Results time: 2–5 days
- Pros: offers a broad range of STI test kits
- Cons: full panels are more expensive than other options
This company offers 19 different kits for STI testing.
MyLabBox offers tests for single infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. These are the most affordable options the company provides.
Additionally, the company offers test kits specifically for sexual partners, older adults, and full panel tests.
Learn more about MyLabBox here.
Best for lab sample collection: PrioritySTD
- Price: $59–198
- Packaging: none
- Results time: 1–3 days
- Pros: uses testing sites, which ensures that people provide acceptable samples
- Cons: not as convenient as taking a sample at home
PrioritySTD does not offer at-home sample collection. Instead, people must go to one of the over 4,000 labs that partner with the company. All the centers comply with FDA regulations.
The company states that the entire process is discrete and anonymous.
PrioritySTD offers individual tests, a twin-panel for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and 10-panel tests that screen for a variety of STIs.
Best for fast results: STDcheck
- Price: $45–259
- Packaging: none
- Results time: most results are available in 1–2 days
- Pros: offers a doctor consultation with a positive test result
- Cons: requires visiting a testing center
People can order tests and view results on STDcheck’s website but will need to go to one of over 4,500 partnered testing centers to take a sample collection.
The company offers individual and panel tests for a range of STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis A, B, and C.
The following table compares the home STI tests in this article.
|Nurx||$29.50 with insurance|
|discrete||7 business days||offers ongoing medical support||expensive without insurance|
|Everlywell||$49–149||discrete||within days||accepts FSA and HSA payments||does not accept insurance|
|LetsGetChecked||$99–149||discrete||2–5 days||offers free prescriptions||free prescriptions not available in all states|
|MyLabBox||$59–399||discrete||2–5 days||offers a range of STI tests||full panels more expensive than other options|
|PrioritySTD||$59–198||none||1–3 days||features more accurate sample collection||not as convenient as taking a sample at home|
|STDcheck||$45–259||none||1–2 days||provides doctor consultation with a positive result||requires visiting testing centers|
There are several organizations and locations that may offer free or low cost STI testing:
- Planned Parenthood health centers: Planned Parenthood may offer lower-cost testing for people on lower incomes. Learn more here.
- Community health centers: Community health centers may offer lower-cost testing for people on lower incomes. Learn more here.
- Healthcare professionals: Most doctors offer STI testing. This may be an affordable option for people if their insurance covers the cost of the tests and any potential treatment.
- Student centers: Student centers at colleges may offer low cost STI testing. People should view their college’s website for more information.
- Local health departments: A person’s local health department may be able to offer information about where to find low cost STI testing near a person’s home.
People should consider contacting a healthcare professional or using an at-home STI test if they have sex without a barrier method, such as a condom, with someone who may have an STI.
Although many STIs do not cause symptoms, some people may notice:
- discharge from the penis or vagina
- painful urination
- sores around the genitals that can be painful, painless, or itchy
- flu-like symptoms
Here we answer some common questions about STI testing.
Are at-home STI tests as accurate as testing at the doctor’s office?
If a person believes their test result is not correct, they may wish to contact a healthcare professional for another test.
How do I know if I should get tested?
People who are sexually active or have more than one sexual partner and males who have sex with males are at higher risk of contracting STIs and should receive testing more regularly.
If a sexual partner discloses they have an STI, or if a person notices any symptoms of an STI, they should receive testing as soon as possible.
Are STI tests accurate outside of the optimal detection period?
While it is possible to detect STIs before or after the optimal detection period, the test may not be as accurate.
Healthcare professionals will advise people whether they need to wait to receive testing or whether they need testing at a later time.
What are the signs of an STI?
Some STIs do not have any symptoms. However, if a person experiences any of the following symptoms, they should receive testing:
- unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
- bumps or sores around the genitals, buttocks, and thighs
- inflammation, swelling, pain, or itching around the genitals
How can I test myself for STIs at home?
Several companies offer at-home STI test kits. These kits should always come with clear instructions on what sample a person needs to provide and how to collect it. Some companies may offer videos on how to collect samples.
The samples a person needs to collect are often urine or swab samples, or a finger prick blood sample. If a person is uncomfortable performing a blood sample on themselves, they may wish to ask a friend or family member for help.
Once a person has collected their sample, they must send it to the lab the company uses. Companies often give people prepaid envelopes. Once the lab receives a person’s sample, they will screen it for STIs.
People will receive their results often within a week or so of sending the sample to the lab.
Can I test myself for chlamydia at home?
Yes, many companies offer at-home chlamydia testing. Most companies ask for a urine sample. However, some companies may offer chlamydia testing for the mouth or rectum. These kits will require a swab.
Can you do STI tests yourself?
Yes, people can perform STI tests on themselves. Several companies offer at-home test kits with detailed instructions.
At-home STI testing is a convenient and private way to screen for these infections. There are several companies that offer lower-cost STI testing online.
People can also use local resources to find free or low-cost testing. Planned Parenthood, local community centers, and student centers may offer subsidized testing for people on lower incomes.