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At-Home STI Testing vs. Clinic Testing: What's Best for You?

Daye's diagnostic tampon and a speculum next to each other.

At-Home STI Testing vs. Clinic Testing: What's Best for You?

But which option is actually better? And are they equally accurate?

Daye Wave Divider

Illustration by

Sabrina Bezerra, Erin Rommel & Maria Papazova

Reviewed by

Sarah Montagu (NPs, SRH). Sarah is a highly-qualified sexual and reproductive health nurse with 15+ years of experience.


29th May 2024

You wake up on a Saturday morning. You make coffee and read your book in bed, before getting showered, dressed and heading out for brunch with some friends. You wander over to a museum, then pop into your local bookshop before poking a swab up your vagina to test for chlamydia – nope, that last one doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Sexual health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, but getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is no one’s first choice of activity. In fact, it can be intimidating, uncomfortable and distressing, for many reasons.

But there’s no getting around it – it has to be done. And so, whether it's your first time getting checked out or your fiftieth, understanding your options is vital.

The traditional option is a visit to your local sexual health clinic; but in recent years, the rise of at-home STI test kits has made it far easier for people to get tested in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

But which option is actually better? And are they equally accurate?

Let's take a closer look at the difference between STI testing at-home vs at sexual health clinics.

Sexual health nurse looking at the medical record of a patient.

Pros of Clinic Testing

Professional Guidance: Clinics are staffed by a clinical team who can offer appropriate tests, guide you through the process, and answer any questions. Clinics offer access to additional services like vaccination and contraception. Some conditions, like pelvic inflammatory disease, can only be diagnosed with a physical examination. 

Comprehensive Testing: Clinics often provide a broader range of testing options, including blood tests and examinations for many STIs. Most clinics will offer microscopy, which allows for immediate diagnosis of some STIs and other infections. Some clinics offer free postal kit screening for people without symptoms. 

Immediate Support: If you test positive, the clinic can immediately arrange treatment and offer counselling and support.

Cons of Clinic Testing

Privacy Concerns: Even though clinics are confidential, some people may feel uncomfortable or anxious about visiting a clinic and discussing their sex life with healthcare professionals.

Inconvenience: Depending on your location, getting to a clinic can be time-consuming, and you may have to deal with wait times. Clinics may not offer appointments at times that are convenient or suitable for you. 

Discomfort from Symptoms: If you're dealing with unpleasant STI symptoms, you might not want to sit in a clinic waiting room for ages.

The Rise of Home STI Test Kits

It’s no exaggeration to say that home STI test kits have revolutionised sexual health services.

These kits let you test for common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, and hepatitis B from the comfort of your home. A typical STI testing kit includes all the necessary tools (a vaginal swab, a finger prick blood sample collector, a urine sample container).

The process is straightforward: you collect your sample, send it back to a lab (often via a service like Royal Mail), and wait for your test results, which usually arrive via a text message or email.

Pros of Home STI Tests

Privacy and Discretion: Home STI tests are discreetly packaged in a plain envelope or box, ensuring your privacy – especially appealing for those who value confidentiality.

Convenience: You can complete the test whenever it works for you, without needing to schedule an appointment or travel to a clinic. If you don't have time to visit a drop-in sexual health service, an STI kit you can use in your own time is a great solution.

Simple Instructions: These kits come with easy-to-follow instructions, making the process of collecting a blood sample, urine sample, or swab straightforward.

No Need to Talk to Anyone: If you're someone who always heads for the self-checkout rather than the cashier at the grocery store, you may appreciate the fact that you can send off your samples without having to speak to anyone about it.

Quick Results: Many STI test kits offer quick turnaround times for test results, often within a few days.

Cons of Home STI Tests

Tests for Various STIs: Some tests may not cover all STIs, so it's important to choose a kit that tests for the infections you’re actually worried about. Some testing kits might only test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, while others might include additional testing for trichomoniasis, HIV, hepatitis B, Syphilis and herpes. Make sure you know which STIs are covered by the test kit before you get started.

Follow-Up: With some at-home services, if you test positive, arranging treatment and further consultation is down to you. Equally, depending on the at-home STI testing service you use, you might be automatically connected with specialists and given treatment plans.

Making the Right Choice for You

Choosing between a home STI test and a visit to a sexual health clinic really depends on the person.

If you value privacy, convenience and know your stuff when it comes to sexual health, a home testing kit might be the best choice. These kits are ideal for routine screening, especially if you're sexually active with multiple partners, have had unprotected sex, or just need some peace of mind.

However, if you're experiencing STI symptoms, want comprehensive screening, or need emotional support, a visit to your local sexual health clinic can also be the best idea.

Daye's DIagnostic tampon kit.

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds (and why not?), you could opt for Daye's tampon-based STI testing kit. When you use our test kit at home and send it off to the lab for analysis, we'll connect you with specialists who can give personalised treatment advice – including all the information you need to deal with symptoms and avoid spreading the infection to your sexual partners. You can even get your treatment for some infections sent directly to your home.

In short, our test kit offers all the convenience of at-home testing, combined with the personalised support of a sexual health service. Daye offers a more holistic, personalised, convenient and flexible service. So, whether you're concerned about particular symptoms or just want to do the responsible thing and get tested, order an STI test kit from Daye today!

Daye tampons are manufactured in accordance with medical device standards, including ISO13485 and GMP. In order for a diagnosis to be confirmed, test results from the Diagnostic Tampon should be considered by a licensed healthcare provider alongside a patient's symptoms and medical history. Like every other diagnostic test, lab results are not sufficient for a diagnosis. Daye offers customers the option to connect with independent CQC-regulated healthcare providers virtually and in-person for a confirmed diagnosis. All prescriptions and treatments provided through the Daye platform are issued by third-party, independent pharmacists, who are also regulated under CQC and GPhC.