Getting an STD test can be daunting if you have never done it before, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. You may be surprised by how fast, easy, and affordable it can be!
In this article, we will introduce all your options to get tested quickly and discreetly. With an at-home or online STD test, you can get accurate results in as little as 24 hours and receive a free consultation from a doctor.
There was a time when you had to schedule an appointment at the doctor’s office to get an STD test, and then wait a week or more for your results. Thankfully, those days are behind us. In the comparison table below, you can see how these new testing methods compare to STD tests at traditional doctors’ offices and public clinics.
|Testing Method||Waiting Times||Speed of Results||Positive Consultation|
Private Testing (Walk-In Clinic)
10-20 Minutes with No Wait
Free With Positive Result
At-Home STD Testing
Free With Positive Result
Call for Appointment
Call for Appointment
Out-of-Pocket Cost Required
Limited Hours and Long Lines
This is one of the most popular ways to get tested for STDs today. These tests combine the best of both worlds for convenience and accuracy. You will order the test online at home, but you can walk into a professional lab testing center to get tested. This reduces the likelihood of errors.
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You can order the test within minutes, without leaving the house.
This form of testing is private and discreet.
Online STD testing is cost-effective.
Even though you will need to visit a testing center, it should be easy to find one near you.
You do not need to wait or book an appointment. Testing takes only minutes.
If you have a positive result, then some companies will follow up with you. STDCheck.com lets you call in for a free consultation with a doctor. Sometimes, you can get your prescription written over the phone.
You will have to leave your house for the testing.
You may not find tests for every single disease. For example, STDCheck.com does not seem to offer a trichomoniasis test.
You don’t even need to leave your house to get tested for STDs this way, which makes it the most discreet option. Everything is done through email and snail mail.
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FDA-approved testing means accurate results if you follow the instructions with care.
Order online, collect your sample within five minutes, send it back, and wait. There is nothing more to it! This is the most convenient method for STD testing.
Your discretion is assured.
Within just a few days, you will hear back about your results.
Accuracy is high if you correctly follow the directions, but there is less control in your home environment than in a professional testing center, so accuracy may be lower than it is with walk-in tests.
It takes a few more days to get your results than it does with walk-in tests.
Another option is to simply visit your regular clinic and talk to your doctor.
You can talk to your doctor right away about your concerns. Your doctor is familiar with your records, and they know you, which may provide some useful context.
An STD test from your local clinic should be accurate, assuming you trust the lab that the clinic uses.
This is the most expensive way to get tested. Instead of spending under $200 for a comprehensive panel, you might spend $2K.
This is also one of the slowest ways to get tested—especially in rural areas. It is common to wait weeks to see a doctor, and then wait weeks again for your test results.
There is nothing confidential about getting tested this way.
Getting tested at a clinic is inconvenient. It involves scheduling, driving, waiting, and other potential hassles.
Many people find visiting the doctor’s office for STD testing to be embarrassing.
One last option for STD testing is a trip to a free clinic. If you go to a public STD-testing clinic, then you may get a free or discounted test, depending on your financial situation.
In conclusion, we do not advise a visit to a free clinic or your doctor’s office for STD testing. The doctor’s office is expensive, and both options can potentially involve a lot of hassle.
You might not have to pay for STD testing. Obviously, if you are on a tight budget, then this can be a significant benefit.
Accuracy should be high. A public health clinic using a professional lab can provide you with accurate results.
Testing is not always free. In some cases, you might get a single free test, and then you must pay for the rest.
You may not be able to use the clinic at all. Some free clinics are only available to low-income customers. If you are above the income ceiling, then they may not even serve you.
The process is not discreet.
There may be an extensive wait. Free and low-income clinics are notorious for extremely lengthy wait times. You could end up sitting in the waiting room for hours, and then find yourself waiting weeks to find out whether you have an STD.
It can be inconvenient to drive to the testing center and back. You might also feel embarrassed about going.
While you may feel ashamed you may have an STD, you should know that being ignorant about the disease is not a good thing for your health. Untreated STDs can cause serious health problems and may cause complications such as infertility.
Everybody should be tested. Everybody includes older adults, people in a committed relationship and teenagers. How often they should be tested for STDs is dependent on several things such as how many people they are sleeping with and how many people their partners are sleeping with.
There are many STDs out there, so the real trick comes in finding out which sexually transmitted disease to be tested for. The two most common STDs are gonorrhea and chlamydia, and they are asymptomatic, which means most people don’t know they have it until it causes even worst problems. One such problem is pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility.
Everyone from 13 to 64 years of age should be tested for HIV at least once. You should be tested more often if you engage in any of the risk factors for it such as having sex with someone you don’t know well or have had more than one sex partner since the last test. If you also use drugs and share needles, you should be tested for HIV.
Besides these three, there is syphilis, HPV, genital warts and many, many others. Talk to your doctor or do your own research to learn about the different ones.
Talk to your doctor if you experience burning or itchiness in the genital area. Whether your symptoms free or not, you should learn how often you need to be tested for STDs.
If you have sex at least once a year and are between 21 and 25, you should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea once a year.
If you’re dating someone new and it’s getting serious, make sure you and your partner get tested before having sex. Getting a test does not mean you don’t trust your partner but respect them and their health. You can go into the relationship with confidence about their health, which allows you to have a better sex life and not have to worry about using condoms unless there is any reason to use them.
Even if you’re in a long-term relationship, you should still be tested at least three times during it. If you believe they were exposed to an STD, make sure to get tested. Many people in supposed committed relationships have been diagnosed positive for an STD.
If you have an open relationship, be sure you and your partner get tested often depending on the arrangement you have. If you notice you have odd symptoms or believe your other half has cheated on you, you need to get tested for STDs.
Your sexual health is just as important as your overall. With casual sex on the rise and people having sex with more than one partner, it’s important to get tested for STDs to remain healthy.
Before an STD test is ordered, your doctor is going to ask you several questions. They are asking them to determine the likelihood of an STD. Some of these risk factors include a new sexual partner in the last two months, more than one sex partner, lack of condom use, sex with prostitutes or other sex workers, trading sex for drugs or money, age, previous STD history, illegal drug use, etc.
Some STDs need a blood sample to test for the diseases, but with others, you may have to undergo a vaginal screening of your cervix. According to Loanzon, a speculum is placed inside the vagina and a swab inside the cervix. The swab will not pain, but the speculum is known to cause some discomfort when inserted. A vaginal cervical screening is done for both chlamydia and gonorrhea, which should be done if a person is 25 years old or younger.
The swab sample is then sent to a lab, and the doctor may choose to do a pelvic exam to ensure there is no pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you choose not to do the cervical screening, blood tests will be done for syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
Once testing has been done, you’ll need to wait for the results. This can take up to 48 hours. When they get the results, they may ask you to come back into the office or have someone call you about the results. If a test comes back positive, the results are given to you as well as the Public Health office of the community you reside in. The key for this is to track the infections to ensure it doesn’t become a health crisis.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD