Medically reviewed on November 8, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also called STDs) can be stressful and even scary. From trichomoniasis to chlamydia, these conditions often need medical care to protect your health and wellness. However, visits to your healthcare provider can be financially or personally inconvenient for some. Which might lead you to ask—is it possible to test for or treat STIs without heading to your healthcare provider’s office?
Fortunately, clinics aren’t always your only option. With the right tools and guidance, you can support your sexual health right from your very home. If you suspect or know you have an STI, keep reading to learn when an STI can be tested for or treated at home and how to get treatment for an STI without going to a healthcare provider.
STIs: what are they?
Despite their stigma, STIs are incredibly common, and some might even be called “normal.” In fact, over half of the US population will contract an STI during their lifetime.  To understand your treatment options, it’s important to learn more about these conditions that could affect your life.
STIs include any infection spread between people during sexual activity—that includes vaginal, anal, or oral sex.  With proper treatment, some STIs may pose little to no major health risks. How long can an STI stay dormant without symptoms? The answer can depend on the person and the type of STI: some infections can go latent, which means long periods of time without any symptoms, but the virus or bacterium still lives in your body (like the kind of herpes that causes cold sores). However, STIs left untreated can lead to poor health outcomes, like: 
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Infertility issues
- Tubal or ectopic pregnancies
- Perinatal or congenital infections (passed from pregnant people to infants)
- Brain damage
No matter the diagnosis, you should always seek some form of medical care for STIs. Delaying testing or treatment is not worth the health risks.
Types of Treatable STIs
No two STIs are exactly the same. Depending on the type of infection, STIs can be curable or treatable, benign or possibly deadly, and hidden or symptomatic. Luckily, a large portion of STIs can be tested for and treated without an in-person visit to a healthcare provider.
Conditions you may be able to treat without in-person care include:
- Genital herpes – The second most common STI, genital herpes is a viral infection caused by either the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus.  About 10% to 35% of herpes patients develop symptoms like painful lesions on the genitals, which can be treated with topical solutions and antiviral medications, but not cured–the virus remains in the body after treatment and subsequent breakouts may occur. 
- Trichomoniasis – More common among people assigned female at birth, trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection of the lower genital tract or urethra. While 70% of patients have no symptoms, others may experience itching, burning, discharge, or discomfort while urinating.  Fortunately, trichomoniasis can be cured with antibiotics.
- Chlamydia – A bacterial infection, chlamydia can damage the reproductive systems of people who can get pregnant if left untreated.  Luckily, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. Most cases go undetected, which means testing is an important means of diagnosis—but possible symptoms may include discharge, burning while peeing, and genital pain.
- Gonorrhea – Similar to chlamydia, gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that’s curable with antibiotics. While about half of cases are asymptomatic, some people may experience genital itching, discharge, or pain. 
- Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B is a viral infection that’s preventable by vaccines. About two-thirds of cases go unnoticed, but this infection is still quite dangerous.  Without antiviral treatment, hepatitis B can lead to fever, jaundice, and even death. Prescriptions for this drug do not cure the disease, but they can help manage it. Not all forms of treatment for hepatitis B are available without seeing a provider in-person.
The good news? If caught early enough with STI screening, you may be able to test for or treat all of these STIs via telehealth without going to a healthcare provider’s office. Let’s explore your top options for testing for and treating these conditions at home.
How to get tested and treated for an STD at home via telehealth
Whether you have a busy schedule or a tight budget, in-person healthcare provider visits can be tricky. Luckily, our increasingly connected world gives you more medical care options than ever before—including testing for and treating STIs at home.
To save yourself at least one trip, you can get to know your STI testing and treatment options away from a healthcare provider’s office.
Telemedicine or telehealth is a miracle of the modern age. Through technology, licensed medical professionals can help diagnose and treat your conditions—all from your preferred location. 
Typically, a telemedicine appointment is conducted over the phone, video chat, or website portals where you can safely and securely share pictures and personal information. If you can’t visit a healthcare provider in person, healthcare professionals can help you diagnose, treat, and prevent STIs through these digital exchanges.
Consider using telehealth services if you have:
- Limited financial resources for in-person healthcare provider visits
- Limited time or travel capabilities
- Low-urgency STI symptoms
- Questions about whether a prescription is right for you
- Continual or routine STI treatment
- Questions about any STI and its treatment
- Specific needs for medical professionals of a certain gender or identity
While telemedicine can be an excellent alternative to visiting a healthcare provider’s office, not every situation can be solved through technology. Painful or bothersome symptoms should be addressed by a healthcare provider in person, since they could mean a high-risk medical situation. Similarly, home STI testing results, or some treatment options may require in-person assistance.
Whether curable or not, many STIs have a prescription medication in its typical treatment protocol. Once a healthcare provider has prescribed the appropriate medication, you can pick it up at a pharmacy—no clinic visits are required.
For all STIs, oral and topical prescription medications will fall into these two categories:
- Antibiotics – To treat bacterial STIs like chlamydia, medical professionals will prescribe oral or injected antibiotics.  Luckily, antibiotics can cure many bacterial STIs—but only if the antibiotic treatment is fully finished. Skipping doses can lead to persistent infections.
- Antivirals – To treat viral STDs like herpes, medical professionals will prescribe oral, injected, or topical antivirals.  For HPV and herpes, prescription antiviral creams and pills can enhance your immune system to fight breakouts. For HIV, continual antiviral medication is necessary for treatment.
Prescription medication is a crucial step in treating many STIs, whether bacterial or viral.
Self-care and health precautions
At the end of the day, STIs are bodily infections, just like a cold or the flu. To fight them off and prevent further infection, you need to take safety precautions and support your overall well-being.
Beyond necessary prescriptions, you can help your body heal and prevent future STIs through these self-care practices:
- Protection – Some STIs stick around for a lifetime (like herpes or HIV), but others can reinfect your body even if you’ve had them and undergone treatment in the past. If you’ve successfully treated an STI, don’t jump back in the car without a seatbelt. Make sure your sexual activity includes STI protection, like barrier methods such as condoms and routine testing. 
- Over-the-counter medications – No over-the-counter medication can replace antibiotics or antivirals for STI treatment. However, you can add certain topicals or other medicines into your care routine. To soothe herpes lesions, an over-the-counter docosanol cream can shorten symptomatic outbreaks. 
How to get diagnosed for an STI without going to a healthcare provider
If you’re nervous to talk to your healthcare provider about STDs, we understand. However, just know that healthcare providers are on your side. Even if you’re stressed or anxious, they can help you detect any infection with expertise.
That being said, you don’t always need to visit a clinic to get accurate STI test results. Thanks to modern medicine, you can test for all major STIs right from your home. Research shows that home testing kits can increase accurate diagnoses while reducing medical costs—a win for all involved. 
Protect your sexual health with Everlywell
Whether you’re at a high or low risk of STIs, you can never be too safe. That’s where our team can lend a protective hand. Take control of your sexual health with the Everlywell at-home lab tests like the STD Test for Women and the STD Test for Men.
Testing for six common STIs, our panel is a one-stop shop check on your sexual health. Additionally, with Everlywell's option for STD treatment online, it's easy to schedule a video call and speak with a healthcare provider at your convenience—and receive a care plan that may prescriptions if applicable.
What is telehealth?
How do I do a virtual visit with my healthcare provider?
Types of telehealth care and services
Can medication be prescribed via telehealth?
Differences between telehealth vs. in person care
STD prescription online: how it works
Wondering how to get antibiotics without seeing a healthcare provider? Why you need to see a healthcare provider
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