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While sex can carry a boatload of benefits, the waters can get rocky if you don’t protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Topping the charts as the most common STI is the human papillomavirus (HPV) — with most sexually active adults contracting an infection within months to a couple of years after beginning sexual activity. HPV can infect anyone of any gender identity to varying degrees, but the biggest risk is that it can cause many types of cancer, even though you might have no symptoms. So, it’s definitely not to be taken lightly.
If you’re concerned you may have encountered HPV, but the thought of a visit to the doctor makes you cringe, consider an at-home HPV test. You can avoid awkward conversations about your sexual history and still find out your status in a timely and discreet manner.
Here’s a look at the best options out there:
We read the reviews, scoured the websites, compared features, and weeded out the duds before compiling our list of the best at-home HPV testing options.
Here are the criteria we used to create our list:
- wait time
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$80
- $$$ = over $80
Here’s a closer look at the most discreet, convenient, and accurate home testing options to find out where you stand with HPV.
- budget friendly
- includes support from medical professionals
- info-packed online portal
- great reviews
- don’t accept insurance
- results might take several days
Everlywell is a recognized name in at-home health testing, and they offer an impressive range of general wellness and sexual health test kits. All the lab tests are CLIA certified, meaning that the test results are reliable and secure.
If you opt for the Everywell HPV test, you’ll find out your status for 14 HPV genotypes that can cause cervical cancer, including HPV 16 and HPV18/45.
When your kit arrives, you register online with the unique ID, collect your sample, and return it. Within an unspecified number of days, you receive your results straight to your mobile device. And don’t worry, all your data is protected.
The easy-to-use kit includes a vaginal swab, biohazard bag, prepaid return shipping, and physician-reviewed results. If you choose to become a member, you can save $25.
Price: $$$ ($79 without insurance, from $49 with insurance + a $15 consultation fee)
- accepts insurance
- accredited laboratory
- impressive support system
- mandatory $15 consultation fee
Nurx offers a range of STI test kits, emergency contraception, and HIV PREP. The HPV test kit covers 14 high risk strains of HPV, including HPV16 and HPV18.
To begin, you’ll need to answer a few health questions and pay a $15 consultation fee, which gives you unlimited messages with the medical team for a year. A partner lab then sends out your HPV kit in discreet packaging, and if applicable, they’ll bill your insurance, or you’ll pay online.
Once your kit arrives, you’ll need to collect your vaginal swab and return it to the lab using the box and prepaid shipping label. Nurx ensures that it’s a state-of-the-art lab that specializes in complex molecular testing and meets scientifically rigorous standards.
After your sample is tested, the medical team contacts you to discuss your results and any next steps. Although you must pay extra for access to the Nurx medical team, you might find it reassuring to have that support system in place should you need additional advice.
- 99.9 percent accuracy
- free retests for positive results
- HIPAA compliant
- the priciest option
- doesn’t include physician support
If you’d rather keep your personal business under wraps, there’s no need to worry about the iDNA HPV test kit. It arrives in plain and unbranded packaging with no hints about its contents.
The testing process is quick and straightforward. The first step is to register your kit online so that iDNA can deliver your results through their private and secure online portal or phone app. Then, you’ll need to take a quick vaginal sample with the supplied swab and ship it on its way to the CLIA-certified lab. Once it arrives, it’s tested for 14 high-risk HPV types.
Expect your results within 5 days. Should you test positive, iDNA will retest you for free to confirm the results.
- pain-free testing
- fast results
- discrete packaging
- currently unavailable in New York State
- only available to women over 30
myLAB Box takes pride in making everything simple, from ordering the test kit to taking the samples and receiving the results. Plus, they have impressive reviews to back it up.
Now for the bad news: As of this writing, this home HPV test is temporarily unavailable in New York and to anyone under the age of 30.
If this doesn’t apply, you can order the myLAB at-home HPV test that screens for 14 high-risk HPV types. Simply follow the easy-to-understand instructions, collect your sample, which takes just a couple of minutes, then return the sample using the prepaid envelope. Expect to get your results in 2 to 5 days.
You might be biting your nails waiting for your results, but once they arrive, you can take advantage of a free phone consultation with a physician about your results.
It can be nerve-wracking to be diagnosed with any form of sex-related infection, but try not to fret or panic. Your immune system often clears infections like these all by themselves without you lifting a finger. But you should still gain as much knowledge as possible and talk with your doctor to discuss any necessary next steps.
There’s no treatment for HPV itself, but you can address the health problems it causes. If you have genital warts, your doctor can prescribe meds for treatment or they can recommend alternative removal methods.
If you have precancerous cervical cells due to HPV, doctors may opt to remove the cells or monitor you regularly.
If you don’t have any symptoms, your doctor may recommend you take another test in 12 months to see if you still have HPV.
Here are a few of the more common questions around HPV and screenings:
Are home HPV tests accurate?
Yes. Each of the home HPV tests we’ve chosen for our list are at least 99 percent accurate, and the iDNA HPV test is an impressive 99.9 percent accurate.
You can be reassured that these testing options are just as valid as laboratory tests, although they may not test all types of the virus.
Can men be tested for HPV?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there isn’t an approved test for HPV in men.
Most men with HPV have no symptoms, and they clear the virus within a couple of years. Because there’s no treatment for the virus, the only thing to do is wait for it to run its course.
The situation isn’t the same for peeps with cervixes, as HPV can cause abnormal cells there.
That said, some doctors offer anal Pap tests to men who have an increased risk of anal cancer. This includes men who receive anal sex and those with HIV.
Is an HPV test the same as a Pap smear?
No. A Pap smear takes cells from the cervix and looks for abnormal, precancerous, and cancerous cells. It doesn’t look for the HPV virus. In contrast, the HPV test looks for — drumroll — HPV, which can lead to abnormal Pap smear results.
It’s possible to have a positive HPV test and a normal Pap smear. Although, most changes in the cervix are caused by HPV. And having HPV doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have an abnormal Pap smear.
If you have a cervix and you’re between the ages 21 and 65, regular Pap tests are recommended with frequency depending on your HPV status.
How can I avoid an HPV infection?
The most secure way to avoid an STI, including HPV, is to abstain from all forms of sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, anal, and hands-on sex.
If that doesn’t sound ideal, the next best option is to use a barrier method every time you have sex and to get regular Pap smear and HPV screenings.
Can I get the HPV vaccine?
Yes. The HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, can protect you against nine types of HPV that can cause cancer and genital warts. For it to be most effective, you should get the vaccine before you become sexually active.
The CDC recommends that children of all genders are vaccinated at around age 11 with two shots. If you’re between the ages of 15 to 26, you’ll need three shots.
HPV is a tricky customer. Even though it may not cause any symptoms, it’s responsible for a sh*t load of different cancers. Not good.
At-home HPV tests are a convenient and discreet way to find out if you’ve picked up an infection somewhere. By understanding your HPV status, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing HPV-related cancers. And that can only be a good thing.