All About STI Tests
Have you had unprotected sex recently or have been notified by a previous partner to get tested? While sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) are very common, many people feel nervous about visiting their GP for testing. For those that would rather get tested confidentially, it is now possible to test for STIs from home. In this article we would like to take a closer look at the types of STI tests available for home use, and how they can be useful for you.
What is an STI test?
Nowadays it is easy to test yourself for various sexually transmitted infections from the comfort of your own home. An STI test is a self-test with which you can independently and anonymously test yourself for various sexually transmitted diseases, without needing to visit a clinic or doctor’s office. Getting tested for STIs is recommended for anyone with a new sexual partner, those who frequently change partners, those who are experiencing symptoms consistent with an STI, or those who have been warned their partner tested positive for an STI. However, there are different quality standards and levels of reliability for various STI self-tests on the market.
What types of STI home tests are there?
There are two types of self-STI tests – rapid tests without laboratory evaluation, and home tests with laboratory evaluation. While both tests have their advantages and disadvantages, home tests that include laboratory analysis are the most reliable and are able to detect a wider range of infections. Therefore, a self-test with laboratory evaluation should always be chosen where possible.
Rapid STI test without laboratory evaluation
As the name suggests, STI rapid tests are quick tests. They are inexpensive, anonymous, easy to carry out and will give you a result within minutes of testing. However, their reliability is often insufficient and most GPs will request a second test before initiating treatment for an STI. This is especially true if a partner of yours has had a positive STI test and therefore asks you to get tested. In this case, a self-test with laboratory evaluation is strongly recommended over a rapid test.
STI self-test with laboratory evaluation
A self-STI test with laboratory evaluation is the most reliable way to test yourself for STIs in the comfort of your own home. In contrast to the rapid STI test, a false test result is almost impossible, because after you have carried out the self-test, you send your test to a laboratory, which evaluates your test. This is similar to methods used by doctor’s offices and sexual health clinics, which often involve taking a sample in the office and then sending the sample to a laboratory. This method better ensures that the result is accurate, and will also inform you if your test result is invalid for any reason. One reason for an invalid test result can be incorrect sample collection. With a rapid test without laboratory evaluation, some people may interpret an invalid test result as a negative result, when that is not the case. With laboratory-evaluated STI tests, you can be assured your test result is accurate.
Homed-IQ only offers STI self-tests with laboratory evaluation. All of our partner labs are licensed and your testing process is 100% anonymous.
How is a home STI test performed?
STIs can manifest themselves in different ways, as they can be caused by various pathogens such as viruses, parasites, and bacteria. Therefore, there are also different ways in which an STI home test can be carried out.
Self-STI tests can be ordered either from a pharmacy or anonymously online from companies like Homed-IQ. The selection of STI home tests has grown in recent years and has become very diverse. With Homed-IQ, you can choose from the following STI tests:
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Test
- Chlamydia Home Test
- Basic 3 STI Test
- STI Test Complete
- Hepatitis B Blood Test
- STI Test Comprehensive
Currently, there are three different ways how the test can be performed. At Homed-IQ we offer the following test types:
- Blood sample for STIs that infect the blood
- Urine sample for infections of the penis
- Swab sample for infections of the vagina, throat, or anus
During a blood test for STIs, you simply prick your fingertip with the enclosed lancet and deposit a small amount of blood into a blood collection tube. The procedure is relatively simple and offers few opportunities to perform the test incorrectly. Only taking too little blood is one of the most common reasons why the self-test cannot be fully examined in the laboratory. STIs that can be detected in blood include HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis B.
During a home STI test using a urine sample, you send in a small amount of your urine to a laboratory for testing. Taking the sample is very easy and invalid samples are rare. However, it is important that only the first urine of the day can be used. This means that you can only do this test directly after waking up in the morning. Urine testing is used to detect chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis infections of the penis.
During a swab test, a small amount of fluid and cells are collected from the back of the throat, vagina, or anus using a provided swab. This test can be done at home, but should be done with care to collect enough fluid and cells. Swab testing is used to detect chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis infections of the vagina, throat, or anus.
What to look for in home STI tests
When doing a home STI test, you should pay attention to several things. On the one hand, it is particularly important that you look closely at what type of test it is. While lab-evaluated tests are the most reliable, not every laboratory STI test on the market meets European quality standards or works with laboratories that have medical certification in Europe. At this point, we would like to point out once again that all Homed-IQ tests meet these standards and that we only work with laboratories that are ISO 15189 certified – the highest possible medical certification in Europe.
Another factor is the window period. Make sure you wait long enough before taking a home STI test with a laboratory evaluation. Testing yourself too early could generate a negative test result despite being infected. Therefore, you should wait at least 14 days after expected exposure to an STI before doing a home test. In this way, you can be sure that your test result is valid.
Last but not least, users should be aware of the test instructions. Make sure you follow all the test instructions for use correctly. Doing a test incorrectly can cause your test result to be falsely negative or that the result cannot be interpreted correctly in the lab and is therefore invalid. This would mean that you would have to repeat the test, costing additional time and money. Not sure about how to carry out a Homed-IQ test? Please do not hesitate to contact our customer service!
Gynecologists online. (2018, May 25). Vaginal swabs » Gynecological swabs / swab tests » Diagnostics » Gynecologists online – your portal for women’s health and gynecology ». Gynecologists online. Retrieved on May 10, 2022 from https://www.frauenaerzte-im-netz.de/diagnostik/gynaekologische-abstriche-abstrich-prüfungen/vaginalabstrich/
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