If you think you could have caught an STI then you can check your status by using a home STI test kit. Order a test kit online with Zava and get a convenient testing service with extra support if you need it.
You can get test kits for a range of STIs, including:
- hepatitis B and C
- chlamydia and gonorrhoea (oral, anal, and genital)
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About home STI testing
Where can you get tested?
- At home – you can do your own STI testing at home with a test kit that you can purchase online
- At a sexual health (GUM) clinic
- At your GP’s surgery
What does testing involve? – the way you get tested for an STI depends on which STI you might have been exposed to.
Tests that require a pin-prick blood test:
- The combined syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C test kit
- The standalone syphilis test kit
- The standalone HIV test kit
- The extended STI test kit
Tests that require a urine sample for men or a vaginal swab for women:
- The combined genital chlamydia and gonorrhoea test kit
- The standalone genital chlamydia test kit
- The HPV test kit
Tests that require a genital swab for men or women:
Tests that require a rectal swab:
Tests that require a throat swab:
Tests that require a pin-prick blood test, a urine sample for men or a vaginal swab for women, a rectal swab, and a throat swab, include:
Always get tested as soon as you can – if you think you could have caught an STI, you should get tested as soon as possible. Then, if it’s a positive test, you could start treatment right away.
But, even if you’ve actually caught an STI, if you test for it soon after you caught it, sometimes the test may miss it. So, if this is the case for you and a test comes back negative, you may need to repeat the test to be sure that it’s correct.
Different STIs can take different amounts of time to show up on tests, but they can still show up earlier than the times listed below.
Infections that can take up to 2 weeks to show up on tests include:
- Anal chlamydia and gonorrhoea
- Oral chlamydia and gonorrhoea
- Genital chlamydia and gonorrhoea(anal, oral, or genital)
Infections that can take up to 4 weeks to show up on tests include:
Infections that can take up to 13 weeks to show up on tests include:
- Hepatitis B and C
Recent HIV exposure – if you think you were exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, please visit a local GUM clinic or A&E department as soon as possible, as you may be able to take PEP (which reduces your chances of contracting the virus).
HPV – you can test for high risk strains of HPV any time, not just after you’ve had unprotected sex.
How can you order test kits online? – if you would like to check your STI status then you can easily order a test kit through our online doctor service:
- Complete a short assessment to confirm you understand our service
- Place your order for the test kit you think is right for you
- Log into (or create) your account
- Finalise your order and provide payment details
- You will be billed and your test kit will be dispatched
- You can expect to receive your kit in 1-2 days
- Once you’ve performed your test you can post your samples directly to lab for testing
Is it the same as getting tested in person? – there are some differences between getting tested at a clinic or surgery and do a home test kit. Advantages of the home test kit include:
- You don’t have to book any face-to-face appointments
- You can perform the test in your own home
- You can talk to our Customer Support team if you need any help with your kit
- You won’t have to discuss you sexual health with anyone beforehand
When would I get my results?
- You should receive your results 2 to 3 days after your samples reach the lab
- Your results will NOT be sent to you directly – you can see them in your patient account and you will only be notified by email to say that a message is waiting for you in your account
How will I know what to do with my kit? – no matter which test kit you order, it will come with detailed instructions on how to collect your samples. Below are brief explanations of each sample:
- Blood test – use the lancet (device for pricking your skin) to create a pin-prick on your finger. Place your finger over the sample tube and drip blood into it, up to the fill line. Seal and label your tube
- Urine sample – fill out the label and attach it to the sample tube. Use the urine collection box to collect the very first bit of urine when you urinate. Transfer the urine from the collection box to the sample tube and seal it
- Swabs – fill out the label in the swab packet and attach it to the swab bottle. Open the bottle and remove the swab. Once you’ve used the swab, put it back into the bottle. Check the instructions for how to do the swab depending on whether it’s vaginal, oral, or rectal
For all test kits:
- Make sure you fully complete your labels and attach them to your samples
- Put all your samples into the clear specimen bags provided before putting them in your self addressed envelope
- Always complete your checklists to make sure you’ve done everything you need to complete you test
If you need any help with your kit – please call our Customer Support team if you’re at all unsure of how to complete your test. They can talk you through the process and make sure you complete your test properly before sending it off.
I’m not sure which test kit I need – to help you figure out which STI to test for, you can refer to our “List of STIs and Symptoms” page. We also have an extended STI test kit which covers a wider range of STIs if you’re not sure which you’ve been exposed to, or you think you’re been exposed to more than one.
STI symptoms in men – if you’re a man and you think you might have caught an STI, you could experience the following common STI symptoms:
- Itching or burning feelings around your genitals
- Pain when you urinate
- Any lumps, spots, sore, or blisters around your genitals or anus
- Irritation or pain in your urethra (inside your penis)
- Discharge (unusual liquid) coming from your penis
STI symptoms in women – if you’re a woman and you think you could have been exposed to an STI then you might get some of the following symptoms:
- Itching or burning feelings around your genitals
- Pain when you urinate
- Any lumps, spots, sores, or blisters around your genitals or anus
- You find sex painful
- Strong-smelling, yellow, or green discharge coming from your vagina
- Pain around your lower stomach
- Irregular (not normal period) bleeding from your vagina
When do symptoms usually show up? – this varies between STIs. It can be as quickly as 1-2 weeks after you have unprotected sex or it could take months or years for you to develop any symptoms, if at all. It’s important not to base your decision to get tested on whether or not you’re having symptoms. Getting tested is the only reliable way to know if you’ve caught an STI.
How are STIs passed on? – STIs are normally passed between people by unprotected sexual contact. This can include activities other than penetrative sex (such as masturbation or oral sex) and even from sharing sex toys. Also some STIs can be passed through blood-to-blood transmission through sharing needles or contact sports.
How to tell if you’re at risk of getting an STI? – there‘s no way of knowing exactly what your chances are of getting an STI, but there are things that can affect the risk:
- Not using protection – if you have sex without proper protection then you could be putting yourself at risk of getting an STI. Use methods like condoms and dental dams to help protect you from STIs
- Sharing needles or sex toys – some STIs can be passed on even if you don’t have skin-to-skin contact with someone else
- Not knowing the status of your partners – if you don’t know whether your partner has an STI then it makes it harder to know how to protect yourself
When should you use protection? – there are lots of reasons to use protection during sex:
- When you’re with a new partner – even if your partner has assured you they don’t have an STI, they may not know for sure
- When you’re in an exclusive long-term relationship – even if you’re sure your partner has not had sex with anyone else for a long period of time, unless they have been tested you can’t know for sure they don’t have an STI. Remember that some STIs take years to develop symptoms, or they may not develop at all
- If you aren’t using contraception and you don’t want to get pregnant – remember that you could also be at risk of unwanted pregnancy as well as STIs if you have unprotected sex
Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 19 Mar 2019