A Beginner's Guide to At-Home STI Test Kits

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by Julia Barr

Thinking about ordering yourself a Yoxly STI test kit but not sure how it works, or perhaps a little hesitant? Yoxly makes STI testing easy and private by allowing you to take your own samples at home, post it in for testing, and receive your results by email.

If you’re new to Yoxly or new to STI testing in general, fear not! Taking your own samples is not as intimidating as it sounds, and can actually be a much more comfortable experience. If you’re receiving your kit soon, read on for some helpful tips and tricks to keep in mind before taking your samples.

How do I collect my samples?

Depending on which kit you choose and which STIs you are testing for, you will need to either take a blood sample, urine sample, or a swab sample. Some of the more comprehensive STI test packages might require two of these—for example, a blood sample and a urine sample.

 Your test kit comes complete with detailed instructions to guide you from start to finish—from the actual collection of the sample, to the storage and shipping. And, you can always contact us if you have questions!

What do I use to take my samples?

For a swab sample, you’ll be sent a sterile cotton swab with a long handle and a collection tube with liquid in which to store and ship your collected sample.

  • Tip: After taking your swab sample, be sure not to let the cotton swab touch anything before you put it into the collection tube.

For a urine sample, you’ll be sent a cup with which to collect your sample (and when you do, remember: collect the first part of your stream). You’ll then transfer your sample into the collection tube, making sure to fill it to the specified line.

  • Tip: Do what it takes to hold it in! When collecting a urine sample, don’t urinate for at least two hours in advance of collecting your sample.

For a blood sample, you’ll use the included alcohol wipes to clean your finger, a lancet to prick the skin and fill two collection tubes with your sample (Don’t worry! The prick is small and not painful, and the sample collection size is small, so no need to go faint).

  • Tip: the best place to collect your sample is from the side of the tip a finger on your non-dominant hand, and it very helpful to first warm your hands under warm water for two minutes.

Remember: when taking any samples, timing is everything! You want to ensure that you can post your samples the same day you take them, so don’t take your samples after the post has been collected, over the weekend, or on a bank holiday.

Urine sample vs swab sample vs blood test: which samples do I need to take?

That depends on two things…

  1. The STI for which you are testing. Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are the only tests for which you’ll need to take a blood sample. That’s because these infections are detected by the presence of antibodies in your bloodstream, which your body produces when it comes into contact with either infection.

  2. Your sex (not gender). Quick distinction: for the purposes of at-home testing, we use sex to refer to the genitalia with which you were born. If your sex is female, you’ll be asked to take a swab for all STI tests other than the blood tests listed above. If your sex is male, you’ll take a urine sample instead of a swab. If you have any questions on this point, please be sure to ask us

More questions?

Don’t be shy! Here at Yoxly, we’re not only on a mission to make STI testing as easy as possible; we also want to ensure you feel comfortable and prepared taking and discussing your test. Contact us with your burning questions (no pun intended!), points of confusion, or anything else you’d like to discuss!

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Julia Barr is a recent graduate of the University of Cambridge where she studied postcolonial British history. She currently serves as grant writer with Kar Geno, a Kenyan-based non-profit that assists HIV/AIDS-affected women and provides sexual health education to school-aged children.

Yoxly's Awesome Contributors (YACs) are a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about public health, and committed to furthering our mission. Yoxly provides a platform where a variety of sexual health topics (some more awkward than others!) can be explored, in an informative and non-judgmental way. If you'd like to become one of Yoxly's Awesome Contributors, contact us!

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