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How do STD tests work?

Woman sitting on bed, looking at smartphone screren

In some ways, STD tests are similar to oil changes for your car. Depending on your lifestyle, you should get tested after a certain amount of time has passed or after a certain number of sexual partners.

Of course, you aren’t a car, and your value and longevity don’t have anything to do with your “mileage.” However, regular testing is good for your health. Also, like an oil change, you can do it from home if you have the proper tools.

How exactly does an at-home STD test work?

STD tests detect sexually transmitted diseases in a patient. These tests can be performed in a clinic, doctor’s office, or at home.

You collect your own sample with an at-home STD test. It is sent to a lab, and the final results are available online. With myLAB Box, a healthcare provider will review the results with you.

There are many reasons why someone may prefer at-home STD tests. It could simply be for the convenience of not having to schedule and make time for an appointment. It could also be for privacy or because the patient is requesting the test due to something traumatic, such as discovering their partner has been having an affair. Taking STD tests at home offers a no-questions-asked approach. If you suspect an STD, be sure to wait the right amount of time before testing.

Sample is provided by patient

When you take an STD test at home, you collect the sample yourself rather than going to a lab. The sample you need to provide depends on the type of tests you’re taking. Some tests require only a mucus swab, but many STDs can only be detected via blood or urine tests.

Urine sample

Your test kit may come with a urine collection cup. To send in a urine sample, you will urinate into the cup and send it back with the other testing supplies.

STDs that can be diagnosed with a urine test include:

  • Gonorrhea: An infection caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. It can also be diagnosed via a vaginal swab for women or a rectal swab for men.
  • Chlamydia: The third most common STD in the United States, and it is also caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. It can also be diagnosed via a vaginal swab for women or a rectal swab for men.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium: Another type of infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacteria. It can also be diagnosed via a vaginal or cervical swab for women or a rectal swab for men.
  • Trichomoniasis: An infection caused by a sexually transmitted parasite. It may also be diagnosed by a vaginal swab for women or a urethral swab for men.

Urine tests can also detect urinary tract infections.

Finger prick

Finger prick tests are for STDs that can only be detected with a blood sample. Finger prick tests involve using a small lancet, included with your test, to prick your finger. You then collect the blood in the provided container. The process sounds scary but is relatively painless.

STDs that can be detected with a blood test include:

  • HIV and AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome): HIV is an infection that destroys the immune system and, if left unchecked, can lead to AIDS. HIV/AIDS can also be spread through infected blood, sharing needles, or during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Genital herpes: Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus and currently does not have a cure. A doctor may also diagnose herpes by taking a tissue sample from the sores.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacteria. It’s easily cured if caught in the early stages.
  • Hepatitis B (HBV): Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause severe liver damage. There is a vaccine but no cure. Hepatitis B may also spread by sharing needles or during childbirth.
  • Hepatitis C (HCV): Like hepatitis B, hepatitis C can cause liver damage. Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but there is a cure. Hepatitis C is most often spread through contaminated blood.


Swab tests are performed by collecting a sample with a soft swab, often inside the vagina, urethra, or rectal areas.

STDs that can be detected by swab tests include:

  • Trichomoniasis: As mentioned above, trichomoniasis may also be diagnosed via a swab test. Some tests require both a urine sample and a swab sample.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus): HPV is the most common STD in the United States. It’s a viral infection that causes skin or mucous membrane warts. Vaccines are available for some of the strains of HPV that most commonly lead to cancer. You can also opt for a cervical cancer screening that detects many of these dangerous strains.

Sample is sent out to a lab for testing

Once you’ve collected your samples, they’ll go to one of our lab partners for testing. All myLAB Box tests must meet national standards and be as accurate as those done in a clinical setting. We work with top laboratories to provide you with the best results and keep your data private and secure.

Results of lab tests are provided online

A few days after sending in your test, you’ll be able to see your results online. The results are usually available in 2-5 days, and you’ll receive an email when they’re ready. Once you receive that email, simply log into your myLAB Box account to see your results. If you’d like, you can also download a PDF. These results are lab-certified and can be used by your doctor.

Access to a healthcare provider is available to go over positive results

If any of your results are positive, myLAB Box can provide instructions on how to access a free telemedicine consultation with a healthcare provider in your state. Depending on your diagnosis, treatment could range from a course of antibiotics to long-term infection management. These providers can also give you health tips to manage your symptoms.

If you test positive, it’s important to look through your sexual history and inform any partners you may have infected.

Take Control of Your Sexual Health With Access to a Wide Range of Tests

The CDC recommends yearly STD testing for those who are sexually active. You should always get tested if you’ve been in any situations that increase your risk of infection. Regular testing is good for your general and reproductive health, and myLAB Box offers many other testing kits, including a comprehensive 14-panel test.

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