The Top 15 Things You Should Know About STD Testing
If you have ever had questions about STD testing, you are in the right place. This article aims to answer every question you’ve ever had on the subject, including if there is an at home STD test, since some of you searching for “STD testing near me” are likely yielding less-than-ideal results.
What is STD Testing?
Well, no point starting anywhere except the beginning. STD is short for Sexually Transmitted Disease. STD can sometimes also be called STI- Sexually Transmitted Illnesses. STD testing is simply a variety of laboratory tests that are conducted from a physical specimen that can either confirm or deny the existence of a sexually transmitted disease.
While many of you may assume that a medical test can only be done by medical professionals, keep reading; there’s good news ahead.
How Does STD Testing Work?
According to Planned Parenthood, one of the experts in such matters, “STD testing can be quick, painless, and sometimes even free. STD testing isn’t usually included in regular medical exams — you have to ask for it.”
We will get into the “free” bit later on, but do not get too excited by this proclamation; factors do exist. And pay special attention to the latter part of that statement – if you want an STD test done by your primary physician, you have to ask for it. It is not a routine part of a medical checkup.
There are several ways to conduct an STD test and these include:
- A urine test, where you pee into a cup
- A cheek swab, where someone collects a swab from the inside of your cheek
- A blood test, where you provide blood via your arm or finger prick
- A physical exam, where a medical professional examines your genital area to check for signs and symptoms
- Testing your sores, where a medical professional takes a sample from the discharge from the sore
- A genital swab, where a medical professional collects discharge or cell samples from your penis (not pleasant), vagina, urethra, cervix, anus, or throat.
How Long do STD Tests Take?
The tests themselves do not take very long, but there’s travel time and likely a long wait sitting in a doctor’s office. When you look at the list above, you can see that all of the above except for a physical exam simply involve collecting a sample, and this takes very little time. But you have to factor in everything else, including that long wait for the doctor once you get into the exam room. If you buy a STD test online from Discounted Labs, you can skip the doctor’s office and go directly to the closest lab location to get your test. Your results will be communicated to you within a day. If your result shows that you have a STD, then Discounted Labs can refer you to doctor for treatment or you can choose to go to your own doctor. It is all confidential and private.
How Long do STD Test Results Take?
According to Planned Parenthood, “Your doctor may be able to tell right away if you have an STD. But some tests take a few days to come back from a lab.”
In other words, it depends on the STD test being done.
How Soon Can You Get Tested for an STD?
Getting reliable test results depends on the time since transmission and the individual STD you may have.
According to the CDC, here are the periods you will want to get tested after exposure or transmission:
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia – two weeks
- Syphilis – one week to three months
- HIV, hepatitis C and B – six weeks to three months
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of STDs, and it should also be noted that One Medical only suggests people get tested for herpes during an active outbreak of sores.
They also recommend that anyone who is having, or thinking about having, unprotected sex get tested, regardless of physical symptoms. But you should especially get tested if you are considered a high-risk individual.
High-risk individuals are those that have sex with prostitutes, IV drug users, men who have sex with other men, and people who have multiple partners or frequent in anonymous sex with strangers.
What are the Most Common Tests for STDs?
The most common STD tests include:
- Chlamydia Testing
- Gonorrhea Testing
- Syphilis Testing
- Trichomonas Testing
- HPV Testing
- Herpes Testing
- Hepatitis B Testing
- Hepatitis C Testing
- HIV Antibody Testing
What STD can be Detected by Blood Test?
Most STDs can be detected by blood. However, their accuracy differs depending on the STD being tested for. For instance, the blood test for herpes “cannot determine the location of the infection in the absence of visible sores.”
The article also points out that for chlamydia and gonorrhea, urine tests are the primary method for detecting these STDs.
How Accurate are STD Tests?
According to an article published in Men’s Health, accuracy varies depending on the test, as previously mentioned, but the average is 85 to 90 percent accuracy for STD testing. However, it should be mentioned that HIV tests have an accuracy rate of around 99.5 percent.
The article also mentions how STDs are on the rise in the U.S. and how far testing has come in terms of accuracy, as newer tests are much better and improving all the time.
How Much is an STD Test?
This question is trickier to answer. According to Clear Health Costs, who have documented one man’s journey in his quest for this information, the answer lies somewhere between $0 and $600. Fortunately, DiscountedLabs.com offers the lowest costs for STD testing, with costs ranging from 126 to 189 dollars for three to nice tests included in a STD lab test panel.
We know, that is quite a range. You have nearly-free clinics in larger cities that charge less, you have online laboratory services that charge a bit more than that, and then you have traditional doctor visits that can get pricier still.
And in case you are wondering about Planned Parenthood, the man documented in the article paid $175 for two STD tests. Incidentally, this man did not have insurance, which can reduce costs in some situations.
Does Insurance Cover STD Testing?
According again to Planned Parenthood, insurance may or not cover an STD test and that coverage can vary. However, they say that “you can probably get STD testing for free or at a reduced price if you have health insurance. STD testing can also be free or low cost with Medicaid and other government programs.”
If you have health insurance, ask your provider if they cover STD testing. If you do not have health insurance, you may still get a reduced rate on STD testing if your income is below a certain standard.
Where to go for STD Testing?
There are several places to get STD tests done and these include:
- Your doctor’s office
- The health department
- A community health clinic
- Planned Parenthood
- Online laboratory services/at home STD test kits
Can You Get STD Testing at Urgent Care?
For those of you unfamiliar with Urgent Care, it is a category of walk-in clinic that focuses on the delivery of ambulatory care in a dedicated medical facility outside of a traditional emergency department.
Urgent Care does provide STD testing. According to one Urgent Care center, most people pay between $50 and $100 if their medical insurance is accepted.
Is STD Testing Free?
As you have probably learned by now, the answer to this question greatly depends on the quality of your insurance or your income bracket. If you have insurance, check with them regarding the cost of STD testing. If you do not have insurance and are in a lower income bracket, try looking for free clinics in your area.
If there are not any free clinics in your area, contact the nearest one and ask about services in your location. Just know that most free clinics are not usually free but discounted, in the same way that dollar stores sell products for much more than a buck.
Can You Get STD Tested on Your Period?
For women reading this who are wondering about this question, according to Planned Parenthood, that answer is a resounding, yes, even on your heaviest days.
Is There an At-Home STD Test?
In 2020, there is not much we cannot do from home and this includes getting laboratory tests done for many issues and reasons, including STD tests. However, be careful when choosing an at home STD test as some companies are more reputable than others. Also, it is much faster to go to the closest lab to get your STD test since if you buy a kit online you have to wait for it to arrive at your home and then wait again for it to arrive at the lab. That adds at least 2-3 days to the process.
- Herpes-type 1
- Herpes-type 2
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
There is also a three test STD panel (gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia) that only costs $126.
*Discounted Labs can also refer you to a doctor consultation over the phone if results are positive.
Start here if you are interested in learning how to get lab tests from Discounted Labs. We break down the entire process for you so you know exactly what to expect.