Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common, with the CDC estimating that in 2018, approximately 20 percent of the US population had a sexually transmitted infection on any given day.
If you’re sexually active, it’s important to seek routine testing for STDs on a regular basis to keep yourself and your sexual partner or partners safe.
STD testing is widely available, meaning it’s usually a simple process to get tested for common sexually transmitted diseases.
Below, we’ve talked about where you can get tested for STDs, the different testing options available, as well as what you should know about the testing process.
You can get tested for sexually transmitted diseases at your doctor’s office, a local health clinic or at the locations of organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
It’s also possible to get tested for some STDs online using a remove, mail-in test.
If you’ve been exposed to certain risk factors, worried that you might have an STD or even if you just think it’s the right time to get tested, one of the easiest ways to get tested for STDs is to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
During your appointment, you can let your provider know that you’re concerned about STDs and would like to get tested.
Your primary care provider may perform a physical examination to check for symptoms. In some cases, you may need to provide a blood, urine or fluid sample for analysis in a lab.
While talking to your primary care provider about an STD might seem awkward, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Getting an STD test is a very common, normal thing, and a medical professional won’t make any judgments about you.
Depending on the specific type of test you need, it might take several days to receive the results of your STD test. Your healthcare provider’s office will likely contact you to inform you about the test results.
Most mid-sized and large cities have local clinics that offer walk-in, confidential testing for many STDs.
In some locations, public health clinics may offer low-cost or free services. You can locate clinics in your area with the CDC’s GetTested tool, which lists testing locations for STD, HIV and hepatitis test centers based on your ZIP code, city or state.
STD testing and other sexual health services are available at most Planned Parenthood health centers.
In some cases, Planned Parenthood may provide financial help for STD testing based on your income, household size and other factors.
You can find Planned Parenthood health centers online or call Planned Parenthood to schedule a test at 1-800-230-PLAN.
Many colleges and other educational institutions have on-campus health centers that may offer STD testing at low or no cost.
If you’re a student, you can contact your campus health center to find out more about STD test services and pricing.
It’s possible to test for many common STDs at home. At-home testing kits typically involve buying a test kit online or from a local pharmacy, then sending it to a lab for analysis.
At-home STD tests can check for a range of common STDs and infections, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes (HSV), trichomoniasis, HIV, hepatitis, mycoplasma, ureaplasma and Gardnerella vaginalis.
Many at-home test providers offer several different types of STD tests, some of which may only check for specific STDs.
Depending on the specific STD test you order, you’ll usually need to provide a vaginal swab or a blood or urine sample.
Many at-home tests include a finger stick kit, allowing you to take a blood sample from your fingertip for blood tests without significant pain or discomfort.
After taking a sample, you’ll need to send your test to a lab for analysis using a prepaid shipping label. There’s typically a window period of two to 10 days to receive your results, depending on the test provider and the specific tests performed.
Most at-home STD testing services will provide your confidential results online. Some may offer additional support services or provide a phone call to discuss your test results.
Getting routine testing for STDs is an important part of staying healthy. You should seek routine testing if you’re sexually active, or if you have any symptoms that you think are related to a sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC recommends getting an STD test if you:
The CDC also recommends that gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM) get tested at least one time per year for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
In general, it’s always good to be cautious. If you’re concerned that you may have an STD from unprotected sex, or if you just feel worried and want to get checked, getting a test is a quick and convenient way to protect your health.
Different types of testing is available for all common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV, the type of virus that can cause genital warts), hepatitis and trichomonas.
Many tests can also detect common vaginal conditions that spread through sexual contact, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV).
In general, it’s best to follow the CDC’s recommendations and get tested for all STDs that could potentially affect you. This way, you’ll be aware of your sexually transmitted infection status and able to take action if necessary.
Some STD test providers may advise against undergoing testing for certain infections, such as herpes and HPV, depending upon your medical evaluation.
If you’re unsure of which STD test to get, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider for advice and assistance.
The cost of STD testing can vary based on several factors, from where you go to get tested to your income and level of health insurance coverage.
Most health insurance plans provide coverage for STD testing. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must provide coverage for certain STD tests, including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and HIV.
If you’re not sure about whether your insurance covers the STD test you need, it’s best to call your provider. They’ll be able to inform you about what’s covered under your policy, where you can get tested and if you need to pay for any out-of-pocket costs.
Online STD testing can range in price from less than $50 for individual tests for specific STDs, all the way up to several hundred dollars for a more comprehensive test panel.
Some clinics and hospitals provide free or discounted STD tests. If you have a limited income, you may be able to access testing at a reduced price. You can search for free or low-cost STD test providers near you using the CDC’s GetTested tool.
Getting an STD test is an easy process. You can get tested by meeting with your primary care provider, visiting a local testing clinic or completing an at-home STD test and sending it to a lab for analysis.
Since many STDs can have lasting consequences for your health and fertility, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible if you’re concerned that you may have an STD.
Our full guide to STI testing provides more information about the STD testing process, reasons to get tested and how you can talk to your sex partner about getting tested together.