Image Source: Unsplash / Drew Hays
I'm not proud to admit this (and I'm requesting a mercy umbrella before I say it), but I went four whole years without getting tested for an STD. This was mostly due to the fact that I was traveling around the world for three consecutive years, and there were very few opportunities to pop in for a chlamydia test when I was, say, backpacking in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
However, that's not a good enough excuse. The CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) says we should all aim for at least one annual STD test, and I was royally failing to meet those standards. When I got back to the US at the beginning of this year, I knew it was time to get everything in order, including and especially getting all the necessary tests and checkups done.
Easier said than done, though. I'm terrified of STD tests, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. While some people may fear the dentist, I can't get anywhere near an STD test without feeling like I'm going to hurl on my APLs. For the most part, I've practiced safe sex, although there have been times when I had unprotected intercourse (mercy umbrella, OK?!), and that's what freaks me out the most. So even though I was back in America in January of this year, I only got around to getting tested a couple of weeks ago.
Thankfully, though, I didn't have to go to a clinic to get it done. I did it all in the stress-free comfort of my own home, sans stale waiting room, potentially condescending nurses, and chatty doctors. And it was all thanks to myLAB Box, an at-home STD testing service that only requires a Q-tip swab or a sample of your urine or blood. All you do is follow the directions on the box, mail it in the envelope provided, and voila! You kick your feet up, clean up the pit stains from your nervous sweat, and wait for the results.
Image Source: myLAB Box
When I opened the myLAB Box, I was surprised to see how simple it all was. Everything I needed came in the box, so I didn't have to worry about putting together any missing pieces. There were even easy-to-follow pictures showing what you were supposed to do. All I did was go into the bathroom and swirl the provided Q-tip around the canal of my vagina for 30 seconds. If you think putting a tampon in is easy, wait till you try this. Then I put the swab in the container, closed it, and put everything in the envelope to be mailed out.
Yes, I was terrified. I sweated. I drank chamomile tea. I pictured all the worst scenarios in my head and recalled all the times I watched Rent as a kid. But it was so much less stressful and anxiety-ridden than actually going into the doctor's office and getting it done. At least I could be comfortable and engage in self-care after the test was all done.
The most surprising (and perhaps most pleasant) part of my myLAB Box experience was how long it took to get the results. I was emailed just five days later saying that I could view the results online. I jumped onto the website as soon as possible — and breathed a sigh of relief. I tested negative for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Image Source: myLAB Box
There are many different kind of boxes you can get from myLAB Box. You can get the basic test I got done, which just tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea ($79), two of the most common STDs out there. But you can also opt in for, among many other options, the HIV Home Test ($79), the Genital Herpes Home Test ($79), or the Uber Box ($269), which tests for HIV (I and II), hepatitis C, herpes simplex type II, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. The prices range depending on what you choose. The website indicates that myLAB Box is now accepting FSA and HSA cards, so you may want to speak with your provider to see if you can get some help in covering the cost.
If you do test positive for any of the tests, you will be able to view this result online. However, you're not left to fend for yourself. myLAB Box says a physician affiliate will be assigned to your account and will be in touch with you, either by phone or email, so that you can go over your results and ask any questions you may have. The whole process is discreet as possible, so don't worry — you won't get an obvious text message or email explicitly saying that you tested positive for gonorrhea.
According to the myLAB Box website, you can request a free treatment phone consultation with a physician if you test positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis. You do that by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. But the availability of treatment and consultation varies by state and symptoms. No matter what your results are, don't hesitate to reach out to myLAB Box and ask questions. It will point you in the right direction, and you'll be in touch with a medical professional in no time.
Overall, if you haven't gotten tested in a while and you're too scared to get yourself to the doctor, I strongly recommend myLAB Box. Don't wait for as long as I did to do it, though. The sooner you can learn about your sexual health, the better. Even if you test positive for something, you and your doctor will figure out the best treatment, and you'll come out on the other side victorious!