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STI Testing: FAQs

The best way to prevent the transmission of STIs is by getting regularly tested and using condoms during sex. You can do this by ordering an STI kit online that you complete at home and send back in the post. Unsure of how it works? Read some of our common FAQs about testing below.

You can test for most STIs in most areas at home. You can order STI home test kits from Brook if you live in certain areas.

STI testing

Why should I get tested?

STI testing is an important part of taking care of your sexual health and keeping you and your sexual partners safe. 

Anyone can get an STI, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex or what type of sex you’re having. If you are sexually active, you should test for STIs regularly. 

It is important to make sure STIs are diagnosed and treated as early as possible to prevent them from causing long term health complications.   

And remember: STIs don’t always have symptoms! 

When should I get tested?

As a general rule you should get tested:  

  • Every time you have had sex with someone new 
  • Or every three months  
  • Or every year, if you’re in an exclusive relationship 

It can take two weeks for chlamydia and gonorrhoea to show up on STI tests after unprotected sex (sex without a condom or barrier method) and 6-7 weeks for HIV. If you don’t have symptoms, it’s best to wait this long before doing a test. 

What does an STI test involve?

In most cases it’s easier to order an STI test to complete at home, however you can also get tested for STIs at sexual health clinics or your GP.  

The tests are different depending on what genitals you have and what STI you are testing for: 

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea

For people with penises:

A urine (wee) test. You can usually do these at home by yourself

For people with vaginas:

A swab of the vagina. You can usually do these at home by yourself

HIV and syphilis

Blood sample. You can sometimes do these at home by yourself. 

Other STIs such as public lice

You will need to be examined in clinic by a clinician.

Which STIs can I do a home test for?

This depends on what’s available in your area for people your age. 

Usually, you will be able to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, the two most common and often symptomless STIs. For these, you will either need to take a vaginal swab or provide a urine sample. 

You may also be able to test for HIV and syphilis, both of which are tested for using a blood sample. 

Brook currently offers STI home testing kits for chlamydia and gonorrhoea in some parts of the country. If you know you’d like to be tested for syphilis, HIV, or any other STIs you will need to visit your nearest sexual health clinic. 

This is different for other areas, so it’s a good idea to check to see if you can order a HIV and syphilis test. 

Visit our page with details about free home test kits in your area

Ordering a test

Can I order a test if I have symptoms? 

If you have symptoms of an STI, we recommend you contact your local sexual health service for advice.  

They may tell you to order a home test, or they might ask you to come into a clinic so they can help you test and then get you treatment faster if you do test positive.  

How do I order a STI at home testing kit from Brook?  

To order an STI kit, click on the link below and enter your age and postcode. 

To make sure you get sent the right test, you’ll need to answer a couple of questions about what sex you’ve had recently and what genitals you have. 

You’ll also be asked to provide other personal information which may include: 

  • Full name 
  • Date of birth 
  • Address  
  • Phone number  
  • Email address  

At Brook we only contact you by text phone or email as a back-up. Your address is the address you receive your test to.  

It’s important that you give us the correct details. If you give us an incorrect phone number, we won’t be able to send you your results. Please use your real name too – we need to be sure that the sample you send back belongs to you. 

If Brook doesn’t provide home tests in your area, you visit our page with details about free home test kits in different parts of the UK

Is there a limit to how many STI test kits I can order? 

You can only order one kit at a time, and you should only ever order an STI test for yourself as and when you need it, so: 

  • After having sex with someone new (though wait at least 2 weeks) OR 
  • Every three months  OR 
  • Once a year, if you’re in an exclusive relationship 

Please do not order kits to ‘stock up’ – If they get damaged or expire you may not get accurate results. 
It’s really important that we have each person’s accurate details so we can give them their results and treatment so please don’t order kits for other people using your details.

Can I order an online STI test if I’m under 16?  

Brook doesn’t offer home testing for people under 16 at the moment, but you are welcome to come into clinic where our friendly staff will support you with completing a test and any other help you might need. 

All Brook services are free and confidential.

How do I get tested for HIV and syphilis?  

Brook home testing is currently only for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If you know you’d like to be tested for syphilis and HIV, you will need to visit your nearest sexual health clinic where a clinician will take a blood sample.  

This is different for other providers and other areas, so it’s a good idea to check to see if you can order a HIV and syphilis test. 

Visit our page with details about free home test kits in different parts of the UK 

Completing your test

Can I do a test on my period?

You can do the vaginal swab test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia at any point during your menstrual cycle, including during your period and regardless of how heavy your flow is. 

Your period will not interfere with the result although it may make it slightly harder to take the sample.  

It’s always best to do an STI test as soon as possible after receiving it and especially while you remember! 

How soon do I have to return my test? 

You need to send off your test within 24 hours of collecting your sample. After this time the results are less accurate.  


Plan to complete the test on a day that you can get to a post box to return it. You could also put it in your bag or next to your keys so you don’t forget to take it with you.

I’m worried about someone finding out about the test 

Our STI testing kits come in discrete packaging in a white envelope. From this no one will know what is inside. 

If this is still an issue, you could order the test to another address, maybe you and your friend can order and complete the test together? If you do this, make sure to include your own name and contact details so the tests don’t get mixed up!

I forgot to send the Test Request form with my test, will I still be able to get my results? 

The Test Request form that is included in your kit is essential for our labs to link the test back to you.  

Without this, you are not likely to receive your results.  

If you realise you’ve forgotten to put the form in, you can contact your local Brook clinic to ask what to do now. It might be that you will need to order a new test. 

I’m worried I’ll do the test wrong, how can I make it easier? 

STI tests are nothing to worry about and they only take 10-15 minutes to complete. Tests come with detailed instructions in the box, take your time and follow the steps.

You could also do the test with someone else. Maybe you and a friend could do your tests together or talk each other through it. 

If you’re really worried, you can go to a clinic to get the test done by a clinician or for a clinician to explain the test to you. 

I’m really struggling to get enough blood for the blood sample? 

It can be difficult to get enough blood but there are a few things you can do to make it easier: 

  • Make sure your hands are warm – jogging on the spot, shaking your hands, holding a warm mug of tea or putting them in warm water will all help. 
  • The ring finger (next to the little finger) or middle finger are the easiest to get a sample from.  
  • Prick your finger at the side closer to where your nail is rather than in the middle. 

Remember the lancets (finger pricks) can only be used once. If you run out and haven’t been able to complete the test, you can order another test or visit your nearest clinic where they can give you another test or take the blood test in person. Don’t try to draw blood using anything else – it may put you at risk of infection. 

Some people are not comfortable with collecting their own blood sample, and that’s completely fine.  If this is you, you can go to your local sexual health clinic where they can take a blood sample for you.  

Getting your results

How long do I have to wait to get my results? 

Generally, you should receive your results within 3-7 days of returning your test. You normally receive your results via text, but we may contact you by phone or email if we’re unable to reach you by text. 

If you’re tested at a clinic, you can sometimes get your results during the appointment.  

I haven’t had my results and it’s been more than three days, what should I do? 

Although we aim to get your results to you within three working days, it can take up to 10 days if there are postage delays.  

If it’s been 10 days and you haven’t had your test result, contact your local sexual health clinic, usually the organisation you ordered your test through, and they will be able to check what’s happening with your test. 

What if my test comes back positive? 

Don’t worry. Most STIs can be easily treated with antibiotics!

One of our friendly clinicians will be in touch to support you to get treatment, which is always free. 

Most antibiotics are safe to use with hormonal contraception (like the pill, patch, injection or implant) but talk to the person prescribing the treatment to make sure. 

Tell the nurse or doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be, or if you are breastfeeding. This will affect the type of antibiotic you are given. 

When you get your treatment, Brook staff will also help you to contact your current sexual partner(s) and sometimes previous partner(s) so they can be tested as well. If you would prefer, Brook staff can notify them for you through anonymous ‘partner notification’ and not even mention your name. 

Don’t pass it on

You should also avoid having sex until you have been given the all-clear, to prevent you being re-infected or passing the infection on. 

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