When you suspect something might be wrong “down south,” but you cannot make it to the doctor to check, what do you do?
At one time, there really were no options, but nowadays there is an alternative to booking a clinic appointment, and that is to test yourself for STDs in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
If you do think you may have an STD, the importance of getting tested cannot be understated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every single year, around 20 million new STD infections are diagnosed.
Worse, many STD infections go undiagnosed and unreported, so the actual numbers are probably much higher. While many STDs present obvious symptoms, others may present no symptoms at all and go completely undetected.
Untreated STDs can have serious complications including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, rectal or cervical cancer, eye inflammation, and complications with pregnancy.
Needless to say, if you can make it in to see a doctor, you should. But if there is no possible way, it is still important to get tested—and thanks to at-home STD test kits, it is now easy and affordable to do it on your own.
What Are Home STD Test Kits?
It is sometimes what it sounds like. Other times it requires a visit to a private health lab for bloodwork.
You order a kit from a lab, and it is sent to you through the mail or you pick it up at a local distribution center. You follow the instructions and capture samples at home to send back to the lab. You mail them in, the lab conducts its analysis, and tells you the results.
The reason I say “sometimes” is because some “at home” test kits actually require you to head out the door and get tested at a nearby center.
Why is this an “at home” test kit? Well, technically it isn’t—except that you can place your order at home and wait to receive the results at home. The reason that these test kits are lumped under this category is basically because you do not have to go to the doctor’s office. Testing at the centers is swift; you should be in and out the door in a matter of minutes.
STDcheck.com, the main company we recommend right now, is actually an example of this. Why do we recommend going to a center instead of doing the entire test yourself at home? That’s something I will get into later. First, I want to tell you more about at-home testing.
What can you test for?
Right now, at-home STD test kits are available for a number of sexually transmitted diseases, including:
- HIV Type 1
- HIV Type 2
- Herpes Type 1
- Herpes Type 2
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
You can order single test kits if you are only worried about one disease, or you can order bulk test panels which include a slew of different tests.
Why Are More and More People Choosing At-Home STD Test Kits?
There are a number of reasons why STD home test kits are becoming increasingly popular:
- Testing for STDs at home is a lot more affordable than doing so at the clinic, especially if you have no health insurance.
- Screening for STDs at home is private. Going to the doctor about STDs is embarrassing for a lot of people. Plus, in some cases you may have good reasons for wanting to keep your situation entirely confidential.
- It is easy and convenient to test yourself at home. You do not have to deal with the hassle of scheduling appointments and waiting ages to get into the clinic. This can be especially helpful if you live in a rural area which is undeserved.
Right now, the point about health insurance is particularly relevant.
Around 20 million people have gained healthcare coverage since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010. Nonetheless, around 29 million Americans are estimated to be entirely without health insurance.
Now with the change in administration in the White House, Trump has promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
It will take some time to repeal ACA, but it is entirely likely that around 20 million more Americans will again find themselves entirely without coverage by 2018.
The Trump administration currently has no concrete plan in place to replace ACA with affordable health insurance. Since the administration is driven by monetary interests, it is also quite likely that there will be no replacement. If there is, it will likely resemble the system which was in place before.
So that is an increasingly large number of people who will likely be on their own in the coming years, and who will be unable to visit clinics for STD testing or their other healthcare needs.
What Test Are Available Over the Counter from Brick & Mortar Stores?
Over the counter STD tests are available from brick and mortar stores. You’ll find a lot of tests at your favorite stores: Wal-Mart, Walgreens and so on. Pricing isn’t too bad either, depending on the retailer.
You can also go to a doctor and ask for standard OTC STD test kits, but there’s a catch: privacy.
What About Your Privacy?
If you’re looking for privacy, you won’t get it at your local Wal-Mart – that’s for sure. Privacy is a major reason that people choose mail order kits online over a local store when testing for an STD.
Let’s face it: we see a lot of people at these big stores.
You risk having a friend or family member seeing you with a test kit in-hand. If you don’t care about everyone knowing that you might have a disease, then this isn’t much of a problem. An over the counter test kit may be a good option for those who could care less about their privacy.
But there are other concerns when buying a test in person:
- Ask for the test. You’ll need to ask the person behind the counter to get the test for you in many cases. If you know the person, this makes for a very awkward situation. You’ll also be overheard by others, which is never fun.
- Receipts. If you carry around a store receipt, you’ll find that a lot of people tend to dig these up at the wrong times. Women know this when they have purses overfilled with receipts that seemingly spill out when they don’t want them to.
Privacy isn’t the key focus of an OTC STD kit. You have no real privacy when buying a test in public, and you might also get lucky. Sometimes, the store is dead and you won’t see a familiar face anywhere.
The chances of this happening are slim.
What STD Testing Kits Do Walgreens and Wal-Mart Offer?
We’re using Wal-Mart and Walgreens as just an example because they seem to be in every town in the country. You can swap these names out with most pharmacies and similar retailers and find these very same tests behind the counter or down an aisle.
If you’re on a hunt for STD tests, you’ll find that the country will matter, too.
We’re going to be focusing primarily on the U.S. market, but these same tests, or something very similar, are likely to be found in most countries.
The tests that are available in my local Wal-Mart, include:
OraQuick HIV Test
OraQuick provides an industry-leading STD test, and it’s geared toward HIV. The test, available at Wal-Mart, will provide the same great results as going to a doctor. In fact, the test is the same as the tests you’ll find in your doctor’s office.
But now the test is available for you, too.
This is an oral swab test, and it’s super easy to use. The best part is that the results are provided in as little as 20 minutes.
You’ll know within less than half an hour whether or not you have HIV. This is considered a regular way to test for HIV, and it’s 91.7% accurate when testing people with HIV and 99.9% accurate when testing people that don’t have HIV.
And that’s it. You might not even find Walgreens STD test kits because the company is pushing heavily for consumers to go into their clinics. You’ll be able to get tested by a professional in some Walgreens stores, but this is a major privacy concern, too.
Store Brought STD Test Problems
If you buy an STD test at the store, there are a few problems that you may come across. The key most important problems that I have found with store-bought tests rather than online tests is that:
- Expiration. A lot of stores fail to replace their old and expired STD tests. This doesn’t mean that the tests don’t work at this point, but there may be a risk that the test is inaccurate.
- Handling. People in brick and mortar stores have a tendency to throw kits around. The handling of these items is key to their effectiveness, so if some employee hurls the test behind the counter, you may have a faulty test – it does happen.
- When you buy an STD test online, there is a higher level of service when you use STDCheck.com or MyLabBox. These companies will work with you and try to help you along the way, from testing to treatment.
Yes, the brick and mortar stores are great for HIV testing, and these stores have a lot of reasons why they offer just these tests. First and foremost, the test will use an oral swab which will test for the disease.
The same cannot be done with other serious STDs that require blood work.
Also, the test doesn’t need to be sent out to a lab. You won’t need to sit and wonder “how long does it take to get STD test results?” – they’ll be available in minutes.
But you’re so very limited in the number of tests you can buy.
HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that no one ever wants to get. This disease is highly deadly, and while treatment has come a long way, there is no cure for HIV yet. Your life is forever changed with this disease.
The problem is that all of the other life-changing STDs can’t be tested for with OTC tests, including but not limited to:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
And the list goes on and on.
You won’t find an in-depth STD screening at your local pharmacy store, Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens or Target. You’ll find the HIV test in stores. I have noticed some different tests in online stores, but they’re not available in brick and mortar stores.
I always find better deals at other online retailers or directly from the test seller than on these retailers’ websites.
When you choose a test from STDCheck.com or MyLabBox, you’re choosing the best option in my opinion. The reason I find that these outlets are much better than a brick and mortar store is because:
- Privacy is upheld. You can order and test without seeing a soul. This means that if you do have an STD, only the people you choose to tell will know.
- Variety is offered. There are a variety of STD test kits and options available from these two outlets. The great thing is that you can have a battery of tests performed and make sure that you’re free from all STDs.
- Quality is also better. There are never issues with the quality of these tests because they come directly from the manufacturer. This means that you can be positive that the test is accurate.
- Lab results are often certified. This means that you will have peace of mind in knowing that your results are very accurate. There is always room for error, but lab results will be much higher in accuracy, which is always a good thing.
Overall, I am disappointed with the selection and options offered at my local brick and mortar stores. Aside from the HIV tests, they really do not offer the variety or privacy that most people demand when taking an STD test.
How Much Does an STD Test Cost Without Insurance?
Just how unaffordable is STD testing at a doctor’s office if you do not have health insurance? Costs vary depending on your location and the doctor’s office you choose to visit, as well as the disease you are testing for. But in general, you can expect the costs to range anywhere from $50-$200 per test.
Contrast that with the $10-$30 co-pays which are typical with health insurance.
Of course, if you have not yet met your deductible and there is no significant discount, you could still end up paying $50-$200 per test even with health insurance in some cases. Many health insurance plans do not start covering testing at all until the deductible is met, so the co-pays do not apply.
How Much Can You Save With an Home STD Test?
So how much less does it cost to test for STDs from home?
Rates vary for at-home STD test kits as well, but you can save a ton of money if you go with an affordable company like STDCheck.com. This is a well-established lab which has performed more than a million tests to date.
Here are some of their current rates:
- Hepatitis A, B or C: $24
- HIV 1 & 2 Antibody (4th Gen): $79
- Syphilis: $79
- Herpes I or II: $65
- Chlamydia: $89
- Gonorrhea: $89
- Chlamydia & Gonorrhea: $129
Additionally, you can order a 10 Test Panel for just $198.
Think about that for a moment. Without insurance, you could pay as much as $200 per test. But with an at-home STD test kit, you could pay less than $200 to test for 10 different diseases.
Testing for 10 STDs at a clinic could cost anywhere from $500-$2,000.
Doing it at home could cost a tenth as much!
That’s why even if you have health insurance, it is worth thinking about at-home testing. Do some research on costs in your area and check the fine print in your plan. If you can get tested with reasonable co-pays at the clinic, go for it. But if you cannot, at least an at-home test kit will not break the bank.
How Does It Work?
If you do decide to order an at-home STD test kit from STDcheck.com, what is the process like? What can you expect?
Here is how it works in 3 simple steps:
- Place your order for an STD test kit.
Browse to the STDcheck.com website, or call the company directly to place your order. Online, you can view pricing for individual test kits as well as comprehensive panels. Figure out what you need, and submit your payment.
- Visit a test center.
Next, you need to visit one of STD Check’s 4,000 nationwide test centers. You do not need to book an appointment; it is a walk-in process. There is no paperwork to fill out, and you never have to wait. You just walk in, provide your samples, and leave. The entire process takes minutes.
- Your results are available in one to two days.
Finally, all you have to do is head home and wait to receive your results. Whereas traditional doctor’s offices may take weeks to get back to you, STDcheck.com provides results in your online account within just one to two days.
What If I Get a Positive Test Result?
If the worst should happen and your test results come back positive, STDcheck.com isn’t going to leave you hanging in the wind. If you end up with a positive result, you can call the company directly and you will be connected with a physician.
The doctor will then discuss your results with you in a free consultation. In some cases, you may end up having to schedule a clinic appointment, but STD Check’s physicians can actually prescribe treatments in certain situations. If that is the case, you will be able to take your prescription immediately to the drug store and order what you need to start treating your condition. That way you can get right on the road to recovery.
This is tremendous added value. Again, think how much it costs to go see a doctor if you do not have insurance. Costs can easily range anywhere from $100-$400, and that is just to sit down and talk to someone.
You are getting that opportunity free of charge with STDcheck.com. So that is hundreds of dollars right back in your pocket—and available for you to use on any medications you might need.
STD Check vs. My Lab Box: Which Should I Choose?
You probably recall earlier that I discussed briefly that technically STDCheck.com is not an entirely “at-home” service, but that I recommend it over actual at-home test kits. Now I want to take a few moments to discuss why.
When you order an at-home test through the mail, you are responsible for collecting your samples and mailing them back yourself.
The problem with this is that unless you are a trained medical professional, you do not really know what you are doing. Yes, you can read the instructions and follow them closely, but you still may make a mistake.
Mistakes that users make with at-home STD tests include problems with collecting, handling, and storing their samples.
A mistake in any of those three areas can lead to a contaminated sample, which may result in an incorrect diagnosis.
If you realize that you made a mistake, you have to start all over again, which means ordering a brand new test kit and spending even more money.
And if you don’t realize you screwed up, you may get incorrect results and never even know it. That obviously can be life-threatening.
An example of a company which mails out at-home test kits is myLAB Box.
Don’t get me wrong; myLAB Box is actually one of the better at-home STD testing companies out there. Their kits for men and women test for a range of diseases including HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. They have an extensive guide on how to mail the samples back correctly.
If you order from myLAB Box, they will send you a testing kit through the mail. You read the instructions, collect the samples, and ship them back. You then wait 2-5 days for your results. The screening methods are FDA-approved.
While this is convenient, think about the possibility of making a mistake taking your samples and sending them. When you are worried you might have an STD, you want to be sure of your diagnosis.
Plus, do you really want to wait 2-5 days for results, when you could wait just 1-2 days with STDCheck.com? When you are concerned about your health, every extra day spent waiting is miserable.
With STD Check, you head to a convenient testing center near you. Because the samples are taken at the center, that greatly reduces the chances of an error. All you need to do is provide a urine sample (in some cases a blood sample), and then you are free to go.
Plus, STDCheck.com is currently the only online STD testing service to provide FDA-approved HIV RNA Early Detection tests, not to mention hepatitis A testing as part of the comprehensive panel. It is also the only one to provide services to minors without consent.
Pros of myLAB Box:
- You do not need to leave your house to collect your samples.
- myLAB Box is FDA-approved.
Cons of myLAB Box:
- It is possible to make an error while collecting your samples at home on your own, adversely affecting the accuracy of your test results.
- You have to wait 2-5 days to get your results, plus the time needed to receive and send your kit through the mail.
Pros of STDCheck.com:
- It is quite unlikely your results will be inaccurate since you have taken your samples at a real testing facility.
- STD Check is FDA-approved.
- You only need to wait 1-2 days to get your results.
- If you do test positive, a physician is available for a free consultation. The physician may even be able to prescribe you a medication.
- STD Check provides cutting-edge tests which currently are unavailable through any other testing provider online.
Cons of STDCheck.com:
- You do need to visit a testing center. Thankfully this is not too inconvenient with 4,000 nationwide locations, no waiting time, and no paperwork.
Home Testing FAQ
Q: How much money can I save through at-home STD testing?
A: Considering that you can get 10 STD tests through STD Check for under $200 and a single test can cost you $200 at a clinic, you could easily save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Don’t forget that the free doctor’s consultation that STDCheck.com offers if you test positive may save you hundreds of dollars more.
Q: Can I trust at-home testing for STDs?
A: You certainly cannot trust every at-home STD testing service out there—in fact, we would recommend avoiding most of them. Stick with a provider like STD Check which performs only FDA-approved tests and which uses labs that are CLIA-certified. With other companies, you have no idea what you are getting in terms of quality control. With STDCheck.com, you are dealing with a transparent company that observes the same strict protocols you would expect at a clinic.
Q: What do I need to do to get ready for my visit to the testing center?
A: You do not need to do anything except place your order. You do not need a physical exam, and you do not need to fast. You do not even need to place an appointment. You just walk in when you are ready, and you will be out again in minutes. Within 1-2 days, you will know if you are STD-free or not!
How to Order From STDCheck.com
If you have reason to believe you may have an STD, it is important to act immediately to find out. Early detection is key in successfully treating, curing or managing sexually transmitted diseases and preventing potentially dangerous complications. Click the link below to be taken straight to STDCheck.com website, where you can place your order and protect your health the easy, affordable and discreet way!