If left undiagnosed and untreated, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can have adverse long-term effects and drastically affect a person's lifestyle.
It is important to get tested for STIs regularly if you are sexually active. STIs can be contracted through contact with infected bodily fluids and mucous membranes.
There are different ways to get tested for STIs including visiting a sexual health clinic, ordering a home test kit, or booking a private home nurse visit.
This guide will help you decide what type of STI test is best for you.
You can take an STI test to confirm whether or not you have contracted an STI. In order to test for an STI, a blood sample, urine sample or genital swab is taken. The type of sample required depends on the STI being tested for. The sample(s) are then analysed in a laboratory to confirm the presence or absence of an STI. It is important to get tested for STIs if you are sexually active as symptoms may not always be apparent.
You can get tested for an STI from the comfort of your home through Medicspot. When you book an appointment online, you will get a call from us to confirm your appointment time. A nurse will then visit you at a prearranged time to safely collect your samples. Your samples will be analysed quickly at our labs and your doctor report and results will be sent to you. You can also get tested for an STI by visiting a sexual health clinic near you, seeing your own GP or by using an NHS test kit or getting a private home STI test kit.
There are different ways to get an STI test – from private home nurse visits to free home STI testing kits.
Each method of STI testing has its own advantages and drawbacks. This chapter will explain how you can get tested for an STI and highlight the options available to you.
You should have an STI test if you’ve had unprotected sex or engaged in any sexual activity in the past 12 months. It’s recommended that you get tested at least once a year if you’re sexually active or change sexual partners.
An STI test involves taking a blood sample, urine sample or a genital swab. Different STIs require different types of samples. For example, HIV requires a blood sample, whereas chlamydia can be detected with a urine sample or genital swab. Once samples are collected, they are analysed in a laboratory to determine whether or not you have contracted the STI being tested for.
An STI test checks to see if you have contracted sexually transmitted infections, such as:
Depending on what is being tested for, you should wait for a minimum of days from the time you suspect you contracted an STI before taking a test.
It is worth getting tested as soon as possible after a risky sexual encounter. The results may not yet be positive even if you do have an infection. It is recommended to have the test repeated after several weeks if this is the case.
Any sexually active male or female should get tested regularly to ensure they have good sexual health. This is especially true if you have a new partner or an at-risk encounter (unprotected intercourse with a previously unknown partner, someone who is known to have an STI, a sex worker or IV drug user).
Typically, you will receive STI test results within a week. Medicspot sends STI test results within 4 business days.
If you have engaged in unprotected sex with a new partner or any risky sexual activity, you should get tested for all STIs. Otherwise it is recommended that you get tested routinely every 12 months. Symptoms for some sexually transmitted infections may not always be apparent.
There are different ways to get tested for a sexually transmitted infection. These include:
You can get tested for an STI by visiting an NHS sexual health clinic or your GP. A nurse or doctor will collect your blood samples, urine samples and swabs to test for possible STIs. We can help with:
How long will I wait for an NHS STI test? And can I get an STI test at my doctors?
You can get a free STI test by visiting an NHS sexual health clinic. Make sure to check your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to see their drop-in availability and if they allow you to book an appointment online. Your local GP surgery may also offer some sexual health services.
When you arrive at an STI clinic you will be asked for:
The nurse or doctor will then talk to you about your options and advise you on what STI test to have. They will take the required samples and can advise you on how to treat the illness or infection you are getting tested for.
You will be given a sterile screw-top container and will be instructed to go to the bathroom to collect your urine sample.
A tourniquet will be placed on your upper arm to allow a blood sample to be taken with a syringe.
Your nurse or doctor may also take a swab from your urethra (if you are a man), and swabs from your cervix and vagina (if you are a woman) or carry out an examination of your genitals.
After your samples have been taken, the length of time it takes to get your results will depend on the STI you are being tested for. Some tests can be carried out on the same day and treatment can be given to you right away. For other tests, you may have to wait up to two weeks. The clinic will check with you about how you would like to receive your results.
Advantages of GUM clinics include:
Drawbacks of GUM clinics include:
If you can’t see a doctor or nurse at an STI clinic, you may be able to get a free NHS home test kit instead. This requires you to collect your own blood and urine samples.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this process. This chapter will help you understand how home blood test kits work. We can help with:
You can buy STI home test kits online or on the high street. If you order online, the self-test kit will be sent to your home. You will need to follow the instructions provided on how to collect your urine, genital swab or blood samples. Your samples will need to be posted to the lab as instructed. Your results are usually sent to you via email. If you buy one from an online provider ensure it is high quality before use.
Home blood test kits will usually include tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV. It will include instructions on how to collect your samples and a finger-prick device (lancet) to take your own blood sample. It will also include containers to store your blood, urine and genital swabs. You will then be able to mail your samples to a lab.
TIP: Free home STI kits are not currently available for all of the UK. Search your postcode on the SH:24 website to see if this is available in your area.
NHS home test kits are safe to use if you follow the instructions set out inside your kit. To ensure your home blood test kit is safe, you should check the seal on the kit has not been broken and it is not past its expiry date.
No home blood test kit is 100% reliable.
Advantages of free STI home testing kits include:
Drawbacks of free STI home testing kits include:
If you are worried about taking your own samples, don’t have access to a free STI test kit or don’t want to visit a sexual health clinic, private nurse home visits are an alternative way to get tested.
With a private nurse visit, you can easily and safely get tested from the comfort of your own home.
A Medicspot private nurse visit allows you to have your samples taken by a nurse from the comfort of your home or office. Tests can be purchased online and a convenient time can be arranged for our nurses to visit you.
Your nurse will take your samples for you. Our nurses are trained to draw blood in an efficient and hygienic way. Your samples are processed quickly at our specialist laboratory so you can receive your results in a matter of days.
Your test results will be reviewed by a Medicspot private doctor at no additional cost. If you require treatment, a same day private doctor appointment can be booked at one of over 250 Medicspot locations across the UK.
Our complete STI test checks for the 12 most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK:
Depending on your age, gender and how sexually active you are, you might be more at risk of catching some STIs over others. You can research more information about the different STIs by visiting the health pages on our website. If you are unsure about which STI you should get tested for, speak to one of our private GPs who will be able to provide confidential advice.
When you order your Medicspot STI test, our private nurse will contact you to arrange a convenient time to take your samples.
Medicspot private nurse visits are safe and reliable. Our qualified nurses are trained in taking blood samples for testing. The equipment used to take samples are sterilise and your samples are processed quickly at our world-class laboratory.
You will not have to wait too long after your nurse visit to receive your results. Your samples are processed quickly and you will receive your test results within a few days of your nurse visit.
After you book your blood test appointment with Medicspot, your nurse will arrive at your door on your requested day and time to take your samples. This means you can skip the waiting room at an STI clinic.
If you would like to change the date or time of your appointment, please inform us by calling 020 3637 8398 or emailing email@example.com. A member of our patient support team will be happy to help with this.
Your test results will be reviewed by a Medicspot private doctor at no additional cost. If you require treatment, you can book an appointment with one of our doctors at hundreds of Medicspot locations across the UK.
Medicspot private nurse visits are not covered by the NHS.
A private home STI test kit can also be used to test for STIs. These STI test kits are not provided by the NHS and require you to take your samples yourself.
We have some useful information to help you understand private home STI test kits. We can help with:
Can I get blood tests done privately? What are the pros and cons of a private STI test kit?
Private home STI test kits are not covered by the NHS. These blood test kits typically include instructions on how to collect your own samples depending on what you have chosen to test for. They will also include containers to collect your samples, a finger-prick tool to collect your blood and instructions on how to send off your samples. Your samples will then be processed and your results will be sent back to you.
Private home STI test kits can be purchased online or in some pharmacies.
With a private home STI test kit, you can test for various STIs, including:
Private home STI test kits are typically safe if you correctly follow the instructions provided inside your kit. We advise that you research the private home test kit provider and contact them if you have any queries. Upon receiving your test kit, make sure the seal is not broken and the packaging is not damaged.
After you have sent off your blood test samples, your results should be with you within a week. This can depend on the private STI test kit provider, so make sure to check with them first.
A comprehensive private STI test kit can cost over £200. Pricing will vary depending on the provider and how many STIs are being tested for. Be sure to double-check all information given before making the decision to purchase an at-home STI test kit.
If you would like to change the date or time of your appointment, please inform us by calling 020 3637 8398 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of our patient support team will be happy to help with this.
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK. It is passed on by having unprotected sex and is most prevalent in teenagers and young adults. More often than not, people with chlamydia do not notice any symptoms. This is why it is important to get tested for chlamydia.
This chapter has some useful information to help you understand the test for chlamydia. We can help with:
Can you test for chlamydia at home? How soon after unprotected sex should I get tested for chlamydia?
If you have engaged in unprotected sex, you should wait for two weeks before getting tested. This is because chlamydia can be undetectable during this time.
If you are sexually active, it is advised to get tested for chlamydia every year or when you change sexual partners.
If you have tested positive for chlamydia and have undergone treatment, you can also get tested after a few weeks to ensure that you have gotten rid of the infection.
To test for chlamydia, may need to:
There are different ways to test for chlamydia. You can get tested for chlamydia with a private nurse visit. When you book an appointment via Medicspot, one of our nurses will come to your home to take your samples and have them sent off to one of our world-class labs for processing. Your results will be with you in a few days after your samples are collected.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for STI testing nearby, you can get an appointment at an NHS sexual health or GUM clinic.
Depending on the STI testing service you choose, it can take up to a week to get your results from your chlamydia test. With Medicspot, it only takes a few days to get your STI test results back.
To read your chlamydia test results, look below the result heading on your results document sent to you. Next to your chlamydia test, if the result shows “not detected” or “negative”, this shows that you do not have chlamydia. If the result shows “detected” or “positive”, this means that you have contracted chlamydia. Your positive result may also have a label of “abnormal” next to “detected”.
There is some research to suggest it is possible to receive a false-positive for chlamydia. One of the causes of this is if you have a UTI. Make sure to also test for a UTI if you have a burning sensation when you pee or if you have received a positive chlamydia test result. You can read more on UTIs in our UTI health guide.
You can book a same-day doctor appointment with Medicspot to start your chlamydia treatment. Chlamydia is treated with a course of antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe you azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline. If you find that you are allergic to the antibiotics prescribed, you should inform your doctor so they can prescribe a suitable antibiotic or an alternative form of treatment.
It is advised that you inform current and previous partners of your STI status so they can also get tested.
If you are worried you may have chlamydia, you may want to test for gonorrhoea as well. Both STIs are caused by bacteria contracted through sexual activity. It is very common for people to have more than one STI at a time.
It is important to get tested for gonorrhoea if you have engaged in unprotected sexual activity as symptoms may not always show up. We can help with:
How do they test for gonorrhoea? Can gonorrhoea be tested through blood?
There are many ways to test for gonorrhoea. We recommend a private nurse visit booked through Medicspot as it allows you to get tested at a convenient time from the comfort of your home. A nurse will arrive at your door to take your samples and send these off to our world-class labs for processing.
Gonorrhoea is diagnosed using an STI test, either in the form of a urine sample or a swab of the infected area. Like most STIs, gonorrhoea can also be tested by analysing a blood sample.
Wondering where to get checked for gonorrhoea? If you’re looking for STI testing nearby, you can get an appointment at an NHS sexual health or GUM clinic. Alternatively, you might be interested in booking a Medicspot private nurse visit to get tested for all major STIs in the UK from the comfort of your home, with quick and confidential results.
Wondering how soon can you test for gonorrhoea? Our doctors recommend that you should wait for 7 days after your sexual encounter before getting tested for gonorrhoea. If you receive a positive result for gonorrhoea, you should retest two weeks after treatment to ensure you are clear, then again after three months to make sure reinfection did not occur.
Yes, you can test for gonorrhoea at home with Medicspot’s testing service. With this service, you can book an appointment and one of our nurses will come to your home to take your samples for testing. This process is quick, safe and convenient.
You can also test for gonorrhoea at home with a testing kit through the NHS or through a private health service. However, the free NHS testing may not be available in your area, so be sure to check.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a progressive infection. It is important to get tested because the only way to know for sure if you have it, is by carrying out an STI test for HIV.
A test for HIV can only be done through the screening of a blood sample. You may have some questions about HIV blood testing. We can help with:
How can I test HIV at home? How long after exposure to HIV should I get tested?
4 weeks after exposure to HIV, testing can detect 95% of infections. A negative result should then be retested three months afterwards, to ensure your body hasn’t taken longer than 4 weeks to develop an antibody response.
To test for HIV, a sample of your blood will be sent to a lab for screening. The test carried out will identify an HIV antigen which is part of the virus which can show up 2-4 weeks after infection. If this is present in the blood, it means you have contracted the virus and will need to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the first test is negative you will need a repeat test after 3 months. Medicspot’s home nurse visit lets you easily test for HIV and other STIs.
Medicspot provides an STI blood testing service which tests for HIV. This allows a nurse to take a small blood sample from you at a time most convenient to you. Your samples will be sent off to our world-class laboratory. Medicspot at-home nurse visits are designed to be safe and convenient, so you can get peace of mind from the comfort of your own home.
No tests are 100% reliable. It is a possibility for at-home sampling kits to be damaged or tampered with. Please ensure that your test kits are sealed appropriately before they are sent off and that the packaging has not been damaged on arrival. However, at-home HIV test kits are usually reliable. If you would like a nurse to take your samples without having the hassle of visiting a sexual health clinic, you can now book a Medicspot at-home blood test.
The time it takes to get your HIV test results will depend on the blood testing service you choose to use. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Using the Medicspot at home nurse visit, you will be able to get your test results in a few days. With the NHS blood testing services available, it will take about a week or longer to get your results back.
A non-reactive HIV test result means that there are no HIV antibodies present in your bloodstream. Antibodies will be produced by the body to fight off viruses and infection, so if no antibodies are present, this means the virus is not present. If you get a non-reactive HIV test result, this means that you are HIV negative.
The HIV infection is progressive and incurable, however, there are steps you can take in order to stall its progress. Current treatment can keep the infection at a level that it does not impact on the quality or length of your life. Your doctor can prescribe you antiretroviral medication which works to stop the human immunodeficiency virus from multiplying in the body.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be spread through sexual contact with syphilis sores. This includes oral and sexual contact. If left untreated, this can have adverse effects on the body. We can help with:
Can syphilis be detected in a blood test? What does a non-reactive syphilis test mean?
Syphilis is usually tested for using a blood sample. Alternatively, syphilis can be tested by taking a swab of an open syphilis sore. The samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. If you have contracted syphilis, your blood test result will come back ‘positive’ or ‘detected’. If you are clear of syphilis, your blood test result will come back ‘negative’ or ‘undetected’.
It takes on average 21 days for syphilis sores to appear. The sore can remain from anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks, but the syphilis infection is still present after the sore disappears.
After exposure to syphilis, it can take from one week to three months to get a reliable result from testing. If you get tested before this amount of time, it is important to get retested as a negative result might not be accurate.
Yes, you can test for syphilis at home with a simple blood test. The test involves taking a small blood sample which is sent to a laboratory for testing. Medicspot’s at-home blood testing service allows you to test for syphilis, as well as all other common STIs, from the comfort of your own home. Simply book an appointment and one of our nurses will come to your home to take your sample.
There are different channels available to you to test for syphilis:
Depending on your sample collection method, it should only take a few minutes to collect your samples. If you opt for a private nurse visit or GUM clinic, having your blood sample taken is a quick and easy process. If you are using a home testing kit, it can be more difficult. After your samples have been collected, your results should be with you in a few days.
When you receive your syphilis test results, your test results may be reactive or non-reactive. Typically, your blood test results indicate if your body has produced antibodies reactive to syphilis. If your results come back as reactive, this means you have tested positive for syphilis and you will need to receive treatment as soon as possible.
It is possible to receive a false-positive test result. You may receive a false-positive test if you have another condition that causes similar antibodies to show up, such as HIV, Lyme disease, malaria and lupus.
Likewise, it is also possible to receive a false-negative result. This is usually a result of taking the test too soon before your body develops antibodies to fight the syphilis infection.
False-positive syphilis blood test results are common for pregnant women.Your doctor will routinely screen for syphilis if you are pregnant.
Your syphilis treatment will depend on what stage of the infection you have reached. At the earliest stage of syphilis, it is possible for it to be cured through a single long-acting Benzathine penicillin injection. If you have reached the secondary stage of syphilis, your doctor may prescribe you a course of antibiotics.
The treatment plan for syphilis depends on how long you have had the syphilis infection for. When you have completed your treatment course prescribed by your doctor, you should get tested again in order to make sure your infection is gone.
The most common STIs in the UK include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes and syphilis. However, we recommend getting tested for all STIs if you are regularly having sex.
We have some helpful information on blood testing for some less common STIs. We can help with:
Where can I get a complete STI test? What STIs are there?
Hepatitis B and C are viral infections transmitted through sexual intercourse or the use of infected needles or blood products. It is important to get tested for hepatitis B and C as they can cause serious adverse effects to your liver if left untreated. Symptoms of hepatitis B and hepatitis C are not always apparent. Hepatitis B & C are tested through the collection and analysis of blood samples.
Medicspot offers home testing for hepatitis B & C.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are several types of herpes simplex virus:
Herpes is usually tested by collecting a swab or scraping of an infected sore. This is then taken to a lab to be screened.
Medicspot offers home testing for genital herpes.
Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a bacteria that can be passed through sexual activity. MG often causes no symptoms which is why it is important to get tested. Typically for this infection, a urine sample and a genital swab sample may be taken.
Medicspot offers home testing for mycoplasma genitalium.
Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomonas vaginalis is transmitted through sexual activity and can cause men and women to experience green and frothy discharge. Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed by analysis of a sample of discharge. This is usually collected through a urethral swab or by taking a urine sample.
Medicspot offers home testing for trichomoniasis.
Ureaplasma is a bacteria that naturally occurs in the reproductive tracts. It occurs in both men and women and men and can be passed on through sexual activity. Ureaplasma can pose health issues if the bacteria overgrow. This is why it is important to get a full STI check.
Medicspot offers home testing for ureaplasma.
Gardnerella vaginalis is a bacterial responsible for bacterial vaginosis (BV). Bacterial vaginosis can cause abnormal vaginal odour and discharge. To test for the presence of Gardnerella vaginalis, you will need to take a sample of discharge or a genital swab and this will need to be analysed in a laboratory. Gardnerella vaginalis is a normal bacteria that lives in the genital tract. It only causes problems and needs treatment if it overgrows.
Medicspot offers home testing for Gardnerella vaginalis.
If you are looking for a full STI blood test, Medicspot offers a complete test for all common STIs in the UK. With Medicspot’s blood testing service., one of our nurses will take your samples for you from the comfort of your home. This is then sent off to one of our world-class laboratories and your results will be with you in a few days. If any treatment is required, Medicspot has hundreds of clinics across the UK where you can book a same-day appointment.
The best way to get tested for STIs can depend on a number of factors. You may have some further questions on STI blood testing.
We have some helpful information in this chapter to answer questions you may still be wondering about. We can help with:
What is an STI? How often should you get STI tested?
Yes, you can take an STI test during your period. A blood test will not be affected by your period. However, for a more accurate result, it is advised to wait until your period is lighter or when you stop bleeding for a more accurate result from a swab sample.
Yes, you can eat before and STI blood test. We recommend that you drink enough water before your test to keep hydrated and eat something within one hour of your STI blood test appointment. It is not recommended that you consume alcohol before you take your STI test samples.
Yes, some STIs can be detected with a urine sample. Some STIs are commonly tested for with a urine sample. However, other STIs such as herpes, HIV, hepatitis and syphilis cannot be tested for with a urine sample alone and need a blood sample.
The terms STI and STD are often used interchangeably, although they technically differ. STI means sexually transmitted infection, whereas STD means sexually transmitted disease.
You should get tested as soon as possible after having an at risk sexual encounter. However you may need the tests repeating if they come back clear as it may be too soon for some of the results to have become positive. It is recommended that you get tested regularly and at least once a year and when you change sexual partners.
STI testing can be considered preventive care. Early detection allows you to start your treatment earlier and is crucial in preventing an STI from progressing and spreading to others.
There are no approved STI tests to detect a person’s ‘HPV status’ or to detect HPV in the mouth or throat. HPV tests are used to screen for cervical cancer and only recommended for women over the age of 30.