It's a big step—here are all the places you can go, and what to expect when you arrive.

By Samantha Lauriello
April 15, 2019

Okay, we know getting tested for STDs isn't the most pleasant thing in the world. But if you're sexually active, it's a necessary part of life. STD rates are on the rise nationwide. Many have no symptoms, yet if left untreated some can cause serious health issues. We owe it to ourselves and our partners to get tested on the reg—and not feel embarrassed or afraid.

But when you're ready to get tested for STDs (or STIs, as they are also called), where do you go? Here's a list of all your options, plus what to expect, and what exactly to ask for, when you walk through the door.

RELATED: What Happened When I Took an At-Home STD Test

Where can I get tested for STDs?

First, you can get tested at the office of your ob-gyn or family physician. You can also be tested at your nearest Planned Parenthood facility, by your state health department, or in a community health clinic. In addition, many walk-in medical offices or urgent care clinics also offer STD tests, no appointment necessary.

Which testing site is right for you? If you think you might get a positive test result, seeing your own ob-gyn or family physician might be best, Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the center for obstetrics and gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, tells Health. That's because if you do test positive and need follow-up care or a prescription, your doctor can give that to you after the test.

If you're experiencing symptoms, any doctor's office or medical facility is a good idea. This way, the physician can treat the symptoms while conducting testing. On the other hand, if you're feeling fine but just want to know your STD status, any of the locations listed above can help you.

Depending on the tests you get, you'll find out the results within days or weeks. Ask your doctor or tester what the time frame is, so you'll know when to expect to hear from them—or when you have to check back in with them.

RELATED: I'm 22 and Sexually Active—Here's What Happened When I Finally Had My First STD Test

What should I ask for?

Instead of simply asking for an STD panel or screening, let your doctor know exactly which STDs you want to get tested for. Any doctor's office or community testing facility could have different tests in their standard panel, so make sure you and the tester are on the same page. STDs you may want to get tested for include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, hepatitis, HPV, and trichomoniasis. You can also talk to your doctor or tester about your risk factors or symptoms, then ask them to help you determine what you should be tested for. 

How much will it cost?

The cost of STD screening varies depending on where you get tested, whether STD tests are covered by your health insurance plan, and the exact tests you need. Some clinics, like Planned Parenthood, offer testing on a sliding scale that fits your budget. And depending on your income, you might qualify for free testing. If you're not sure what your insurance will cover, give them a call beforehand. You can also ask them how to locate clinics that accept your insurance.  

RELATED: Everything You Should Know About the 'New' STD

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