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Syphilis is an STI that, if left untreated, can span decades and progress through multiple stages of infection.

In 2019, almost 130,000 new cases of syphilis were reported in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s considerably higher than the 38,000 new cases of HIV infection recorded in 2018. But despite the stigma that it carries, syphilis is treatable.

If the idea of showing up at your doctor’s clinic and asking for a syphilis test fills you with horror, you’ll be glad to know there are now a range of reliable and affordable at-home screening options to find out if you’ve picked up an infection.

Let’s have a look at the best at-home screening tests for syphilis.

We perused the reviews, scoured the info, compared features, and rid ourselves of the flops before creating our list of the best at-home syphilis testing options. We used the following criteria to make our list:

  • price
  • accuracy
  • reputation
  • reviews
  • ease-of-use
  • convenience
  • medical support
  • wait time

Here are the best options for spotting syphilis in the privacy of your own home.

EverlyWell Discreetly Test for Syphilis

  • Price: $$
  • Type of sample collection: finger prick
  • Results: 3–5 days

Your EverlyWell syphilis test arrives in discreet packaging containing instructions, equipment for collecting your blood sample, and a prepaid shipping envelope to return everything to the lab.

All you’ll need to do is prick your finger with a teeny needle, collect the blood sample, and mail it to the certified lab using the included envelope.

The laboratories at EverlyWell are CLIA-certified, meaning they meet the rigorous standards of the federal government. Plus, a board-certified physician reviews your test results. After a 3 to 5 day waiting period, you can expect an email with a secure link allowing you to access the test results on a secure online platform.

EverlyWell also includes a free consultation with a doctor to answer questions and discuss potential treatment options if necessary.

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $$$
  • Type of sample collection: finger prick and urine sample
  • Results: 2–5 days

Yes, it’s one of the more expensive options, but LetsGetChecked home STI kits test for several different infections. Two of the tests cover syphilis. The Standard 5 at $149, tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV, and syphilis. If you’re feeling flush, the Complete 10 at $349 also tests for Gardnerella, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, and herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2.

You can purchase a test online or you can find LetsGetChecked testing kits in your local CVS Pharmacy.

You’ll need a finger prick blood test and a urine sample while you have an empty stomach. The kit provides everything you need for the tests and prepaid shipping labels for your convenience.

All the LetsGetChecked labs are CLIA and CPA accredited labs, so you’re guaranteed accuracy. It’s also CAP-accredited (College of American Pathologists). You need to wait 2 to 5 days to find out your results through your secure online account.

Once you find out your status, you’ll have access to the LetsGetChecked team of on-demand nurses round-the-clock who can talk you through your results and potential treatment options.

Nurx

  • Price: $$$
  • Type of sample collection: finger prick, throat swab, vaginal swab, and urine sample
  • Results: within 7 days

Nurx offers three STI testing kit options that include no-cost unlimited messaging with the Nurx medical team, return shipping for your samples, and most importantly, your results.

You can choose the basics kit, costing $150 out of pocket, or $75 with insurance. Nurx recommends this for people who’ve had comprehensive STI testing within the year. It includes HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis tests.

The Nurx Healthy Woman Kit, costing $190 out of pocket or $75 with insurance, covers infections that can affect the female reproductive system. These include a blood test for syphilis and HIV and a throat swab for oral gonorrhea and chlamydia.

If you prefer comprehensive testing, you can opt for the Nurx Full Control Kit which costs $220 out of pocket or $75 with insurance. This Rolls-Royce of STI testing kits covers chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis C.

Nurx uses a type of test called an ELISA to detect antibodies to the bacteria that causes syphilis. Because this test looks for antibodies, if you’ve previously had and treated a syphilis infection, you’ll remain positive no matter your current status. If this applies to you, you might be better off going with a different option.

Nurx charges an additional $15 to speak with a doctor, but the upside is they can prescribe antibiotics for any infections you’ve tested positive for and send them directly to your house.

STD rapid test kit

  • Price: $
  • Type of sample collection: finger prick
  • Results: instantly

If you want to find out your syphilis status NOW, then you can’t go wrong with the STD rapid test kits.

These testing kits provide results that are 98 to 99 percent accurate in detecting sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes-2, hepatitis B and C, and HIV 1 and 2. Each test comes individually, or you can buy combo kits for a discounted price.

You can order your test kit online, have it sent out within 48 hours, and arrive to you in a couple of days. And yes, they use discrete packaging.

The fabulous thing about these test kits is they require no laboratory work. You just follow the simple instructions, prick your finger, wait it out for 15 minutes, and then read your results. It’s like a pregnancy testing kit in that you need to watch for the purple lines to appear on the test strip. One line means the test has worked and if both lines appear it means the test is positive. No lines means the test was inconclusive and you need another.

If you test positive, you need to contact your doctor to find out the next steps. A downside of using these tests is they do not include medical support.

iDNA

  • Price: $$
  • Type of sample collection: finger prick
  • Results: within 7 days

This individual syphilis test kit will arrive at your home in plain packaging with user-friendly instructions on how to take and return your sample.

You need to take a small blood sample from your finger and return your sample to the iDNA CLIA certified and CAP-accredited laboratory. You can look forward to your results through the secure online portal in around 7 days.

Should you test positive, iDNA offers a free retest, but you’ll need to cover the shipping. As they don’t provide medical support, you need to pop in and see your doctor to chat about your treatment options.

Like Nurx, iDNA uses ELISA testing, so keep that in mind if you’ve previously had a syphilis infection.

The first sign that you’ve picked up a syphilis infection is typically a small, painless sore called a chancre that shows up either on your genitals, anus, or around your mouth. This considered the primary stage.

You can only catch syphilis from direct contact with a syphilitic chancre, no matter where they are, or pregnant people can pass syphilis to their unborn child. You can’t pick it up in public restrooms, by sharing eating utensils, or from other forms of casual daily activity.

A chancre can be so small that you don’t even notice it at first or you may think it’s chafing from exercise or any other kind of rash.

However, they can hang around for a month or so, and if you don’t get treatment, they can progresses to the second stage, involving more intense rashes, fever, hair loss, and nasty lesions.

Doctors can find it challenging to diagnose syphilis because symptoms may not show for years, which is called latent syphilis. But, (and this is a biggie) the earlier you can detect it and start treatment, the better. Leaving syphilis to run rampant in your body can cause major damage to your heart, brain, and other organs. And if you progress to tertiary syphilis, it can be fatal.

No one enjoys testing positive for any sort of infection let alone one that involves your nether regions. But don’t panic, syphilis is pretty easy to treat and cure so long as you, um, catch it early.

If you test positive or if you have any symptoms that could indicate an STI then contact your doctor.

They’ll likely write you a prescription for the antibiotic penicillin to kill off the syphilis-causing bacteria. If you’re in early stages of infection, you’ll only need one intramuscular injection of penicillin. If your syphilis is more advanced or you have latent syphilis of unknown duration, you may need more.

Your doctor can also help you with any concerns you have about your symptoms and outline the best course of treatment for you.

Here are some of the most common questions about syphilis, home screening kits, and STI testing frequency.

How often should I get tested for syphilis?

The CDC recommends that you get routine syphilis tests if you’re included in one or more of the following categories:

  • pregnant people
  • men who have sex with men and are sexually active
  • those living with HIV, who are sexually active
  • people taking PrEP for HIV prevention

Speak with your health professional about a good testing cadence.

Are home STI tests accurate?

Any testing company worth its salt works with laboratories that are CLIA or CAP certified, meaning that the tests are extremely accurate, around 95 to 98 percent — as accurate as in-person testing.

However, bear in mind that because you’re handling the sample yourself, there’s more room for human error or contamination. Even if you use at-home kits regularly, it’s a good idea to continue to have in-person checkups.

Will my insurance cover the test kit?

It depends on the company. Some insurances do cover, and some don’t. If this is a particular concern for you, check with your insurance provider before deciding on a kit.

When should I get an STI test?

You should get tested as soon as you think you’re having any symptoms or your sexual partner(s) has experienced infection or symptoms. The sooner you can get results and begin treatment, the better it is for your and your partner’s health.

It’s also a wise precaution to have regular tests because some infections, like syphilis, may present with no symptoms.

If I always use a barrier method of contraception, do I still need to get tested?

Yes, it’s a good idea for everyone to get tested no matter the type of contraception you use. No form of contraception is 100 percent effective against STI’s, so even if you’re always careful, you could still pick up an infection.

Syphilis is an infection that can cause permanent damage to organs or worse, if left untreated. While it can be tricky to detect at times, the good news is it’s easily treated if caught early.

You can find out if you have an infection using a simple at-home testing kit without a red-faced visit to the doctor.

Regular testing for syphilis and other STIs is a sensible precaution and can protect you and your sexual partners’ health, and avoid the need for awkward conversations.