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By: RSC Editorial Team

March 9, 2023

The Differences Between Blood vs. Urine vs. Swab Test for STD

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect millions of teens and adults in the United States. A swab test for STDs can help you identify infections like herpes or syphilis after sex. Alternatively, blood and urine sample tests can help you identify illnesses like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Deciding between swab vs. blood vs. urine STD tests may require a consultation with your doctor. Here are a few questions to consider before requesting a test:

  • Which type of STD do you need to test?
  • Which lab tests does your chosen clinic offer?
  • How fast do you need results?
  • Which test provides the most accurate results?

Why Should I Get Tested for STDs

Routine STD testing is essential for your long-term health. If you are sexually active, you risk contracting an STD during skin-to-skin contact or contact with fluids during sex. Sexually active women who are pregnant may also pass on infections, like hepatitis, syphilis, or genital herpes, to their children.

rapid STD test from a reputable sexual health clinic like Rapid STD Testing can help you identify and treat problems before they cause symptoms like:

  • Itching or burning skin
  • Warts, blisters, or rashes
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Blood in urine
  • Lethargy
  • Infertility
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

You may think a swab test for STDs is unnecessary if you aren’t sexually active or your current sex partner uses protection. However, the risk of infection is always present. Even if you have never had sex, you can contract HPV or herpes through direct contact with the genitals, mouth, or hands.

Routine testing strengthens the trust between you and your sexual partners. If you are in a sexual relationship with one or more people, testing protects your health and theirs. Negative results can also reduce fears of infidelity and contribute to a happier sex life.

STD rates in the LGBTQ community remain high across the United States. It’s important to test for HIV and chlamydia if you are a man who has sex with men or a woman or transgender person who has sex with bisexual men.

Your risk factors for contracting STDs are higher if you use injectable drugs. Dirty needles that carry infected bodily fluids can expose you to various bacteria and viruses.

Asymptomatic STDs

You may not always experience symptoms from STDs, which makes routine testing even more important. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are notorious for lying dormant for several weeks before manifesting symptoms. HIV can also remain in your body for years before causing fatigue, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes.

You risk transmitting your infection to more people if you continue to have unprotected sex before getting a screening. Consider getting a 10-panel STD test at a Rapid STD Testing clinic to screen for multiple infections. This way, you reduce the risk of undetected STDs in your system.

Testing for STDs

Most people wonder, “Is an STD test a urine test?” While urine tests are quick and easy, they aren’t always practical for screening every type of STD. Sometimes, hospital STD blood testing and swab tests may be necessary to identify infections in your body.

Here are some of the most common STDs and their corresponding test options:

  • HSV-1 and HSV-2: Swab and blood tests are your best options when screening for herpes. These tests check for antibodies and proteins that attack the virus as it spreads in the body.
  • HIV: Oral swabs and urine tests can identify antigens on the active virus that may be present in your body. Clinically administered blood tests provide more accurate readings if your at-home kit produces a false negative.
  • Syphilis: Can you test for syphilis in urine? No. However, a small blood sample will detect the syphilis treponema pallidum bacteria in your system. 
  • Hepatitis: Like HIV, an STD test for hepatitis will check for surface antigens and antibodies on the virus that indicate infection. Blood tests are effective options for detecting hepatitis B. 
  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: A swab test for STDs like these is the most common solution after anal or oral sex. A doctor can take a sample of fluid from your open sores and detect the infection. However, you should ask your doctor for a urine test to screen for vaginal infections.
  • HPV: If you are a woman, you can check for the human papillomavirus (HPV) during routine pap tests. Your doctor will take swab samples from your cervix and screen them in a lab.

Blood Test

How are STDs tested through blood? Blood tests require your physician to take a small sample from your vein using a sterilized needle. They will label your sample in a tube and send it to the lab for closer analysis.

Most tests return results within five to ten days. Alternatively, same-day STD testing from Rapid STD Testing clinics only takes a few minutes to complete and provides results within 48 hours.

You may wonder, “Can a blood test detect all STDs?” No. For instance, a bacterial chlamydia infection will not appear on a blood test, instead requiring a swab or urine test. 

In some cases, blood tests may not detect STDs until after several weeks of incubation. Consequently, you may receive inaccurate results or require multiple tests before it is safe to have sex again.

Urine Test

When choosing between blood vs. urine STD tests, you should know that blood tests primarily screen for viral strains. Urine testing is the primary method for screening bacterial infections. 

For example, gonorrhea testing requires your doctor to collect about 20-30mL of your urine to check for the presence of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium.

Swab Test

During a genital swab test (i.e., urethral swab, vaginal swab, anal swab), your doctor will collect a small sample using a cotton applicator. You can administer a swab test for STDs on yourself with an at-home testing kit. 

However, most professionals discourage this method to reduce your risk of contaminating your test. Choosing the wrong approach could also compromise your STD test accuracy

The most accurate way to test for STDs is by seeking help from a licensed clinician who can advise whether a blood vs. urine STD test is right for your symptoms.

Dealing with Positive Results

Suppose your swab test for STDs comes back positive. You may experience anxiety, depression, shame, and regret. These responses are normal and will likely fade with time.

It’s important to take the proper steps to avoid transmitting your infection to others or compromising your own health.

First, follow your doctor’s advice. They may suggest that you refrain from having sex until antibiotic or antiviral medication settles into your system. Your doctor may also recommend long-term treatment plans for incurable STDs like HIV and herpes.

Next, you should tell everyone you have had sex with in the past several months about your diagnosis. This courtesy may seem embarrassing, but it is crucial to prevent the spread of your disease to others. If you are in a long-term monogamous relationship, encourage your partner to seek testing as soon as possible.

Continue taking prescribed medication and educating yourself about your condition. Many community advocates and support groups help people live fulfilling lives while managing their STDs. Don’t forget to inform your doctors about your health history during checkups, so they can accurately monitor your condition.

Managing Your Health with STD Testing

At Rapid STD Testing, we provide fast and painless STD tests to keep you informed about your sexual health. You can use our find a lab tool to search for a testing facility near you. 

Contact Rapid STD Testing to learn more about how to choose between blood vs. urine STD tests and to schedule your test.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
March 9, 2023

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