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Someone asked us: I need an STD test but can’t go to a doctor’s office. Can I get one online?

Testing for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) — also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — is one of the best ways to take care of your sexual health and your partners. 

Yes, you can test yourself for STDs with kits that you use in private. At-home STD testing lets you skip a visit to a health center, and it’s safe and accurate. 

Where to get at-home STD tests

Depending on where you live, you can buy STD test kits online, at your local pharmacy, and through your nearest Planned Parenthood health center

If you go through Planned Parenthood, you’ll first make a telehealth appointment with a nurse or doctor. During your appointment, they will ask you to share your medical history and any symptoms you may have (a not-so-fun fact: the most common STD symptom is no symptom at all). 

Your nurse or doctor may ask you some additional questions about the kind of sexual contact you’ve had — like oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or anything that involves skin-to-skin genital contact or passing sexual fluids — and how often you use protection when having sex. These questions will help your nurse or doctor tell you whether an at-home STD test is right for you, how to use it, and what it’ll test for. Talking about STD testing might feel awkward, but try not to be embarrassed. Your doctor is there to help you, not to judge you. Learn more on how to talk about STD testing with your nurse or doctor. 

Planned Parenthood health centers and test kit websites will mail your test to you. 

Types of at-home STD tests

If you buy a kit on your own, check the website or label on the box to see which STDs it tests for and if it includes access to a nurse or doctor. 

Some kits only test for one STD, such as HIV/AIDS at-home tests. Other kits can screen for many STDs, or for a couple of STDs in different areas of your body. Learn about the different types of STDs

How much at-home STD tests cost

At-home STD test kits can have a big range in prices. Without insurance, at-home STD tests can be as low as $10 and as high as $250. If you have health insurance, you can check your plan to see if it covers at-home STD tests. Some health centers — including many Planned Parenthood health centers — give free or low-cost at-home STD tests, depending on your income.

How to test yourself

Follow the written instructions on your at-home STD test and follow any guidance you get from your nurse or doctor. If you have questions, contact your STD test kit provider. 

To take the test, you’ll wash your hands and take small samples of your bodily fluids. That may include:

  • Peeing in a sealable cup, 
  • Pricking your finger to get drops of blood, and
  • Swabbing your mouth, genitals, and anus.

Most at-home STD test kits include a prepaid envelope that’s addressed to a lab. Put your samples in the envelope, mail them back, and be proud of yourself for staying on top of your health and looking out for your sexual partners’ health. It’s awesome and important! 

When you’ll get results

You can check with your kit provider to see how long they usually take to share results, but expect to wait about a week. The exception: If you have a rapid HIV/AIDS self-test, you can see your results in about 20 minutes.

With a mail-in STD test kit, you’ll likely get your results online — you might gets an email that links to an online portal. 

What to do with your results 

It’s always important to test early for STDs, but it can take time for an STD to show up. If your results come back negative the first time, keep in mind that some STDs can take days or months after sex before they can show up on a test. So, you might want to retest again later. Learn more about the timing of STD testing. 

Finding out you’re positive for an STD means you did the right thing to get important information about your body. The good news: Many STDs can be easily cured with medicine, or have treatments that ease symptoms and lower your chance of giving the STD to others.

Make an appointment at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center  if you have a positive STD result. They’ll give you an STD confirmation test and a prescription for medication. 

Learn more about getting tested for STDs.

Tags: telemedicine, self-care, telehealth

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