Comprehensive STD Panel

The CDC estimates there are more than 110 million STD infections in the United States, and 19.7 million new infections each year. Young people are increasingly affected, with 50% of new STD cases impacting those between the ages of 15 and 24.

Key Points

  • 1 A comprehensive STD panel tests for the most common sexually transmitted infections.
  • 2 It’s important to test for STDs if you think you’ve been exposed to one even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.
  • 3 10-test panel tests are available to take at home or at a clinic and require blood and urine samples.
  • 4 The CDC estimates there are 19.7 million new sexually transmitted infections each year.

Published January 22, 2020
Written by Anita Wong

The high prevalence of STDs in men and women of all ages is a concern to public health. Some people may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and unknowingly pass on an infection. STDs can also cause significant health problems if left untreated.

Although there’s no single test that can screen for all STDs, the 10 Test Panel can screen for multiple STDs, helping to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment of some common sexually transmitted infections.

This guide provides an overview of what a 10 Test Panel screens for, how the test works, and options for direct-to-consumer lab testing and at-home testing.

What is Being Tested?

The 10 Test Panel provides convenient screening for the following sexually transmitted infections:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B (surface antigens and core antibodies)
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Herpes Simplex Virus I
  • Herpes Simplex Virus II
  • Syphilis

A 10 Test Panel can screen for multiple STDs at one time, which may be useful if you:

  • Think you might be at risk for an STD
  • Have symptoms you believe may be from an STD, but don’t know which to test for
  • Do not have symptoms but think you may have been exposed to an STD
  • May have more than one STD

How a 10 Test Panel Works

A 10 Test Panel is a series of individual tests that screen for selected sexually transmitted infections, typically using urine and blood samples collected in a laboratory. In some cases, home test kits may be available.

Tests Requiring a Urine Sample

Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea is performed with urine samples. Be sure to review any instructions before going to the lab, as you may be required to refrain from urinating for at least one hour prior to providing a sample.

The lab will provide a container with a lid for collecting the urine. Take the container with you to the bathroom and urinate the required amount into the cup. Replace the lid and give the container to the lab for testing.

Tests Requiring a Blood Sample

Screening for HIV, herpes, hepatitis, and syphilis are performed with blood samples. No preparation is required.

Blood samples are usually drawn from your forearm. A clinician examines your arm to locate a vein for drawing the sample and then cleans and disinfects the area with an alcohol swab. A small needle syringe is inserted into your arm to collect a blood sample.

The urine and blood samples are sent to the lab for testing.

Getting Tested

If you prefer not to request STD testing from a physician or health clinic, you can purchase a laboratory order directly from some websites. You may then take this order to a lab to have the tests performed, and access the results online once they’re complete. In some cases, a home kit for some of the tests may be available.

Direct-to-Consumer Lab Test

A doctor’s order is required for blood testing at a laboratory. However, direct-to-consumer lab tests purchased online include a doctor’s order, so you don’t need to see your physician to request the test.

Before purchasing a lab order for a 10 Test Panel from a website, be sure it can be used at a lab near you. In addition to the price of the test, you may also be charged a lab fee, but generally, you don’t pay any additional costs once you arrive at the lab.

When you’ve completed your website purchase, you receive a test requisition to print and take to the lab or to show on your phone. You’re also provided with any test instructions. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully before visiting the lab.

At-Home Test Kit

In some cases, a 10 Test Panel can be purchased as a home test kit, so you can collect the blood and urine samples in the privacy of your home. You then use the prepaid envelope to package and send the samples to the lab for testing.

In these cases, a doctor’s referral is not required for testing, but be sure to review the tests included in the kit before you purchase it, as these may vary depending on the vendor. For example, you may find that a Hepatitis A or B test is available if you purchase a 10 Test Panel order to take to a lab, but not in a kit that’s sent to your home. Often, home test kits screen for trichomoniasis, HPV, mycoplasma, or ureaplasma instead.

Home test kits are mailed in plain packaging to protect your privacy and include the supplies required to collect urine and blood samples at home, including finger-prick lancets. When you receive the kit, review the instructions carefully before you begin, as they explain how to collect the specimens and return them to the lab for testing. There may be specific requirements about how soon the samples need to be returned.

A 10 Test Panel is often more cost-effective than purchasing tests individually. You must pay directly for tests purchased online because they’re not covered by insurance.

What Are the Other Testing Options?

A direct-to-consumer lab test allows you to access STD testing without visiting a clinic or physician’s office to obtain a doctor’s order.

An at-home test kit allows you to test for STDs in the privacy of your home without visiting a lab, but there’s a risk that the tests may not be performed correctly or in a sterile environment, affecting your results.STD tests are also available by visiting a physician, health department, or family planning organization such as Planned Parenthood. Although some people are too embarrassed to discuss STDs in person with a clinician, medical professionals can answer your questions and recommend tests in context with your health and sexual history. Remember, STDs are common, and doctors and nurses are there to help you. You can also feel confident that tests performed by trained professionals are conducted correctly and in a sterile environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If I think I’ve been exposed, how soon should I be tested?

    A window period is the time between possible exposure to an infection and when a test can detect it. If you’re tested too early, you might not have high enough levels of the virus, bacteria, or antibodies in your body to provide accurate results and you may require a retest.

    The window period varies depending on each STD. Tests are most reliable after these time frames:
    Chlamydia: 3 to 14 days
    Gonorrhea: 7 days
    HIV: 6 weeks to 3 months
    Hepatitis: 2 to 4 weeks
    Syphilis: 3 to 4 weeks
    Herpes: 2 to 12 days if a lesion is present, otherwise 3 months

  • Why do I need to get tested if I’m not experiencing symptoms?

    Although you may not feel ill, STDs that are left untreated can pose serious health risks. For example, women with undiagnosed chlamydia or gonorrhea are at risk of chronic pelvic pain, pregnancy complications, and infertility. The sooner you know about an infection, the more promptly you can be treated. A test is the only sure way to know if you have an STD.

  • What are some of the symptoms?

    Symptoms vary for each STD. Some people may experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all or may mistake symptoms for a urinary tract or yeast infection. If you’re experiencing a rash, unusual discharge, bumps, sores, or blisters in the genital area, you should seek medical care to see if an STD is a possible cause.

  • What happens if I purchase a test and have a positive result?

    Most websites provide follow-up care with doctors who can discuss your results and write prescriptions, if needed. You can also seek treatment in person and get advice from your own physician after receiving your results.

    If you use an at-home test kit and receive a positive result or a negative result but are experiencing symptoms, the Mayo Clinic suggests you may wish to confirm the results with your own doctor.

  • How confidential are my results?

    Medical laboratories and doctors are required to report positive test results for some STDs to local and state health departments, as well as the CDC. This applies to cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis.

    The reporting is required for statistical purposes and public health safety, to ensure anyone potentially affected is aware, tested, and treated. Your public health department can discuss with you how to contact sexual partners who may be affected, and whether you’d prefer the nurses to reach out or you wish to speak directly with your partners yourself.