How to Get Reliable Results From Your At-home STD Test

Key Takeaways

  • STIs and STDs are conditions that can be passed from one partner to another through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Sometimes, although it’s less common, they can also be transmitted through heavy petting.
  • If you are sexually active, routine STI/STD tests are encouraged to protect not only your health, but the health of your partners. 
  • Home STD tests require either a urine sample, blood sample, or, in some cases, both. 
  • The majority of infections present themselves through a variety of symptoms, however, in some cases, you may have an infection without knowing because some STDs show no signs or symptoms.

Let’s talk about the birds and the bees…

But we know you’re already familiar with the basic mechanics. Instead, we want to talk about the importance of sexual health and protecting yourself and others with routine tests for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and diseases (STD).

The good news? Getting checked for an STD doesn’t have to involve a visit to the doctor’s office. STD tests can be performed in the comfort and privacy of your home with a Getlabs specialist, and is a convenient and affordable option to monitor your sexual health and receive fast, reliable results. However, with an at-home STD test, it’s important to keep in mind that the accuracy of your test relies on how closely you follow the kit instructions, as well as the quality of the samples collected.

To ensure you get the most accurate results possible and protect your sexual health, we’re breaking down a few of the most common STDs, their symptoms, and how to get reliable results from your at-home STD test.

What Are STIs/STDs?

If you’re concerned you may have contracted a STI or STD, rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, the CDC estimates there are nearly 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States - half of which among young people ages 15-24.

STIs and STDs are conditions that can be passed from one partner to another through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Sometimes, although it’s less common, they can also be transmitted through heavy petting.

The majority of infections present themselves through a variety of symptoms (we’ll cover those later), however, in some cases, you may have an infection without knowing because some STDs show no signs or symptoms. Which is why it's important to get routine STD tests if you are sexually active.

Fortunately, all STDs are treatable, and most are completely curable. The important thing to remember is that if you test positive for an STI or STD, you’ll need to notify any exposed partners so they can seek treatment before conditions worsen or they unknowingly spread the infection to others.

Common STDs Home Tests Can Reveal:

Similar to a test in a doctor’s office, home STD tests require either a urine sample, blood sample, or, in some cases, both. Afterwards, the sample is safely packaged and secured for transportation to the lab for testing. Once the results are ready, they will be sent to you via email, your laboratory's patient portal, or through an app. The whole process is completely confidential, convenient, and reliable.

Below are a few of the most common STDs that home tests can reveal.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in America. The CDC estimates there were nearly 1.5 million chlamydia infections in 2020 alone. It can affect women and men and is a bacterial infection that is transmitted in semen and vaginal fluids that can infect the vagina, cervix, penis, urethra (the tube that takes urine from the body), anus, eyes, and throat.

Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent” infection because it doesn’t always cause symptoms, so it’s possible to be infected and to pass it on to your partner without realizing it. When chlamydia does cause symptoms, they may include the following in women:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Painful periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful urination
  • An itching or burning sensation in or around your vagina

In men, chlamydia may cause the following symptoms:

  • Painful urination
  • Genital pain
  • Abnormal discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Abdominal pain

Chlamydia is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can cause serious health problems down the road. You can take an at-home chlamydia test if you’re worried that you might have some of the above symptoms, or if you want to routinely check your sexual health.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can affect women and men. It’s also the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It can infect the urethra, rectum, throat, and, in women, the cervix. You may not have symptoms of gonorrhea, or they may be so mild that you do not notice them. However, If you do get symptoms, in women, they may include:

  • Abnormal, yellowish discharge from your vagina
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful urination

Symptoms in men may include:

  • White or yellowish discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Itching and soreness in your anus
  • Swollen or painful testicles

Gonorrhea can easily be treated and cured. However, if left untreated, it can cause serious health issues, and sometimes infertility. To put you at ease, at-home gonorrhea tests are available.

Syphilis

Syphilis, or “the Great Pox”, as it was referred to in the 15th century, is a bacterial infection that affects women and men. It can infect the vagina, penis, testicles, anus, and mouth. Syphilis develops in four stages, with different signs and symptoms in each stage:

  • Primary stage: One or more sores will appear. They may be located on your penis, vagina, anus, or lips, or inside your mouth. Sores can last between 2-6 weeks and will eventually heal even without treatment. Even if the sore heals, you still need treatment to prevent the STI from advancing.
  • Secondary stage: Skin rashes may appear or sores in or on your vagina, penis, anus, or mouth. The rash may show up on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet and has a rough, reddish-brown appearance. Other symptoms may include headaches, patchy hair loss, fever, swollen lymph glands, fatigue, and sore throat. Even without treatment, symptoms will go away, but without treatment, the STD will advance to the next stage.
  • Latent stage: During this stage, you will not experience any visible signs or symptoms. However, if you have not been treated, syphilis can remain in your body for several years.
  • Tertiary stage: Many people with untreated syphilis do not experience this stage. However, those who do experience serious problems with the blood, heart, brain, and nervous system. Tertiary syphilis can occur 10-30 years after the beginning of your infection. It causes serious damage to your internal organs and can be fatal.

Without proper treatment, syphilis can spread to the nervous system, brain, eyes, and ears during any of the above stages. This can lead to headaches, muscle weakness, confusion, personality changes, hearing loss, and blindness.

Syphilis can be cured if it is treated early on. However, even if you’ve treated and cured a previous infection, it is possible to contract syphilis again. Since syphilis is difficult to detect, if you think you might have it, it doesn’t hurt to take an at-home syphilis test to be sure.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis, also referred to as “trich,” is a common STD that is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. This STI can affect men and women, although infected men usually experience no symptoms. In women, symptoms may include:

  • Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Itching, burning, and inflammation in and around the vagina
  • Discomfort when urinating or during sexual activity

When trichomoniasis does cause symptoms in men, they may include:

  • Discomfort inside the penis
  • Abnormal discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Burning during urination or after ejaculation

Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics and identified with an at-home trichomoniasis test.

More STDs an At-Home Tests Can Test for

The above conditions aren’t the only STDs that an at-home test kit can perform. At-home tests can also test for a wide-range of STDs, including:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Herpes simplex
  • Ureaplasma
  • HIV
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • HPV
  • Mycoplasma genitalium

How to Prepare for STI Testing:

Before taking your STD test, it’s a good idea to do some research to better understand the different treatment options available in case your test comes back positive. It may also help to document any symptoms you’ve had over the last few weeks so that you can let your physician know.

There’s no need to fast before you take an at-home STD test, but you should drink plenty of water to help you stay hydrated. This will make it easier for you to produce an adequate urine sample.

What Happens During an STI Test?

What happens during your test varies slightly depending on the STD you are testing for. Here’s a rundown on the type of samples you need to take for each STD:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea: If you’re testing for either or both of these STDs, you’ll need to take a urine sample and a penile or vaginal swab.
  • Syphilis: If you’re testing for syphilis, you’ll need to submit a blood test and a swab from one of your sores. A simple finger prick is adequate for your blood sample.
  • Trichomoniasis: If you’re testing for trich, you’ll need to submit a urine sample and a swab from your penis or vagina.

Once collected, the samples are then labeled and submitted for lab testing at no additional cost.

If you don’t feel confident or are unsure about collecting your own samples, specialists at Getlabs are happy to handle your sample collections so you can rest assured they are collected and handled appropriately and your results are accurate. Results are typically available within 5-7 business days.

What Do Your Test Results Mean?

Understanding your results is an important next step after taking an at-home STD test.

When you get the results, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment at your doctor’s office for a follow-up. Your healthcare provider can consider your test results along with your symptoms and medical history to give you a more accurate picture and explain your treatment options.

You should be aware that home STD tests can sometimes show a negative result even though you may have an infection. This can happen if you have taken the test too early in the infection for it to show up within the reference range, or if the test was not sensitive enough. It is also possible to have a false-positive test result. This can happen if your body is producing antibodies that are similar to the STD antibodies you are testing for.

Where Can I Get an At-Home STI Test Done from a Professional?

Taking care of your sexual health is important. If you are sexually active and you wish to take an STD test in the privacy of your home, Getlabs can help you take any samples you need, so you can be sure you will have an accurate test result.

If you have questions about how it works, go to getlabs.com/faqs to learn more.

This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.

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