Physician noting down STD symptoms of a patient.

How to Get Tested for STDs

There are a lot of wonderful things about sex: intimacy, love, romance, passion. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to it, too — sexually transmitted diseases. But worry not: If you’re having safe sex from the get-go, your chances for contracting an STD drop exponentially. Still, practicing protected sex is not effective 100 percent of the time. Thus, anyone who is sexually active should, at some point in their lives, get tested.

The good news? A lot of options exist these days when it comes to how and when to get tested for STDs. If you’re involved with a new partner, both of you should agree to tests before jumping into anything more serious. Or even if you’re not currently sexually active but have been in the past, it’s still smart to find out. Regardless of where you’re at in your sex life, here are tips for how to get tested for STDs today:

See your general practitioner

If you have a primary care physician (i.e., the main doctor you visit for most bumps, bruises, flus, and ailments), consider scheduling an appointment to get an STD test. Benefits of visiting your GP include convenience, familiarity, and a decreased fear or worry of being stigmatized. It can be scary asking for help in a situation like this, but because you’ve seen this doc for most of your life, she knows a lot about you and your medical history. Alternatively, this can be the very thing that deters you from visiting your GP for an STD test: She knows you too well, and it may be embarrassing or unsettling for you to share such intimate details. In matters like this, discreetness often makes all the difference, and you can’t always get that with the physician you grew up with.

Additionally, depending on the type of insurance you carry, certain STD tests may not be covered. (However, this can be true no matter where you choose to get tested.) Finally, if you choose to visit your primary care physician for STD testing, a co-pay is likely required at the time of appointment. This is common and expected for most insurance carriers who visit their general practitioners, regardless of procedure or consultation.

Visit an urgent care

If you don’t have a primary care physician, visiting an urgent care clinic is a good next step concerning how to get tested for STDs. Most urgent care centers — which are typically small walk-in clinics that operate like an ER without long waits or in-depth procedures — offer testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. But like a primary doctor visit, your insurance may not cover certain (or any) STD tests, and a co-pay is usually required when visiting an urgent care clinic. Most urgent care centers provide tests for common STDs, but some centers may direct you to visit a GP or other testing facility when it comes to the less common diseases.

Consult STD professionals online

For discreet testing you can trust, consider going online and connecting with professionals like Accurate STD and HIV Testing. They’ll help you decide which test makes the most sense for your symptoms and sexual activity, and they’ll even identify testing facilities near you for easy access and convenience. No appointment to visit a lab is necessary — only a recommendation from a network doctor. Upon arrival, all you need on-hand is a confirmation receipt provided by the online network you’ve partnered with. Then, you’ll receive your results discreetly and quickly through the online network.

It’s important to note that a physician requisition is necessary to visit a testing lab. Still, your experience is kept totally private and, through networks like AccurateSTD, your testing (and its subsequent results) is never reported to insurance. Even better? When you get tested through Accurate STD, the results — or the fact that you got tested in general — do not end up in your personal health records via insurance like they often do through general practitioners or urgent care facilities.

Stop by a free or low-cost community health clinic

In most areas — rural, urban, and otherwise — there are typically a handful of community health centers for people who either don’t have health insurance or can’t afford it. In some centers, the care you receive is free; in others, it requires a low out-of-pocket fee. Regardless, most community health clinics offer STD testing. If you can’t afford a hard hit to your pocketbook but you need to figure out how to get tested for STDs, a community health center is a smart, cost-efficient option. However, because of the high volume of patients who visit a community clinic, you could end up waiting awhile for test results; that’s not the case with an online network like Accurate STD. One of their core benefits is how fast they’re able to deliver results — with results available within 24 to 72 hours, depending on the test type and facility.

So while sex is great, the consequences of it can be hard-hitting and long-lasting. Let these avenues for getting tested make the stress and burden a little less heavy to carry.