How Do You Test For Herpes
You can test for herpes in three different ways: a blood test, a urine test, and/ or a swab test. The right test for you will depend on:
- whether you have any symptoms at the time of your test
- how long ago you think you might have been exposed
- where you think you have herpes
- your personal preferences
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Best Affordable Herpes Test: Healthlabs
HealthLabs offers laboratory-based herpes tests. These may be the best option for people who do not have health insurance and those working with small budgets.
|does not require appointments and accepts walk-ins|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory for a healthcare professional to collect the sample|
After placing an order, the person receives a laboratory requisition form, which they need to print out and present at a laboratory. The company claims it has 4,500 laboratory locations, and individuals should receive their test results within 23 business days.
HealthLabs has three herpes tests available for purchase:
- a test for HSV-1, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-2, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-1 and HSV-2, which costs $79
People may also order at-home tests for other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
|offers tests for early detection of herpes|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory|
To order either herpes test, a person must access the company website and enter their ZIP code to find their nearest testing center.
The company claims it has over 4,000 private test centers across the United States.
After ordering the herpes test, a person can walk into their local center to receive the testing. An appointment is not necessary.
The test procedure involves a simple blood test and urine sample, which typically takes a matter of minutes. A person can expect to receive their online test results within 13 days.
What Happens If I Dont Get Treated
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or the fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your developing fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? above for information about this.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Naturally
Not every person with a herpes infection actually experiences breakouts of cold sores throughout his or her lifetime or even after initially becoming infected. How often someone has a herpes cold sore outbreak, how severe the outbreaks are, how contagious someone is after infection and how long the sores take to heal all depend on someones individual immune response.
1. Boost Nutrient Intake
If youre going to keep the herpes virus from frequently causing outbreaks, the first step in how to get rid of herpes is to improve immune function by boosting nutrient intake. Include these healing foods in your diet to keep the virus dormant as much as possible:
2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Certain foods can raise inflammation, weaken immune defenses and make skin irritation even worse. Avoid the following foods as much as possible to limit outbreak severity and duration.
3. Consider Supplements
- Antiviral herbs: These include elderberry, calendula, echinacea, garlic, astragalus and licorice root.
- L-lysine : Can help treat and prevent outbreaks.
- Lemon balm extract: Apply as a topical cream for healing.
- Vitamin C : Vitamin C boosts immune function improving herpes.
- Zinc : Zinc benefits include supporting immune function, keeping viruses dormant and rebuilding skin tissue to speed up healing.
- B-complex : B vitamins help your body deal with stress and can prevent outbreaks.
4. Try Essential Oils
How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of testing for genital and oral herpes depends on the type of test that is performed, where the test is conducted, and whether the patient has medical insurance. Testing is often covered by insurance when ordered by a doctor, although patients may still be responsible for costs such as copays and deductibles.
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Doctors Dont Advise Getting A Blood Test For Herpes Without Any Symptoms
Hilda Hutcherson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is one of those doctors. âI usually dont do tests for herpes someone has a lesion or a sore, something I can see, I will do a swab and take it to a culture or check the DNA on the materials I removed,â she says. âIf theres nothing there and I do a blood test and the blood test comes back positive, lets say its positive for type 1, what does that really mean? Most people are positive for type 1.â She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result âdoesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.â
Hutchersonâs motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you havenât seen anything especially when itâs something as common as herpes? âLetâs say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion,â she says. Itâs for this reason that she recommends people do not get tested for herpes unless they have a visible lesion that can be cultured and sent to a lab. Letâs say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?
How Long Do Std Test Results Take
2-3 days is the average length of time it takes to receive STD test results. However, its very important to make sure you follow certain instructions so your test is as effective as possible. Making sure you take the sample correctly and wait until the incubation period is over can make the difference between a false and a true negative.
The body takes time to recognize and produce antibodies in reaction to the invading bacteria, virus or parasite. This is known as the incubation period.
Taking an STD test too early you may lead to negative result for the disease even if you do have it.
Here are the following incubation periods for some common STDs:
- Chlamydia: 7-21 days
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Waiting Times And Test Result Accuracy
Answering how long it would take for someone to definitively test positive or negative on an STD test after a risky sexual encounter requires knowing a number of things, including:
- What STDs the person had been exposed to
- What tests were being used to detect the infection
There are also other, more nebulous factors that could play a role. Unfortunately, this makes it impossible to give someone a definitive answer on how long they should wait to go get a test.
Its a difficult question even from a research standpoint. How do you ethically and practically expose someone to an STD and then repeatedly test them to determine how long it takes for them to test positive? Because of this, there is little to no solid data about how long after an exposure people should wait to get tested for many STDs.
Common practice suggests that people could go in for basic testing for bacterial STDs as soon as two to three weeks after an exposure. However, they would need to be retested again at least three to six months out in order to feel relatively certain of their results.
At a month out, some tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea would be reasonably accurate. Still, tests for other diseases such as herpes and HIV take longer to become conclusive.
If you had a particularly high-risk encounter, six months is a pretty conclusive follow-up period for most STDs. That doesnt mean you dont want to get tested sooner. It just says when you might want to go back to a standard screening schedule.
Can You Donate Blood With Hsv 2
According to the American Red Cross donor eligibility guidelines, people with HSV are allowed to donate blood , unless they have another prohibitive infection, like HIV or hepatitis. However: People having their first herpes outbreak are discouraged from donating, and are asked to wait about a month.
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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
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Whens The Right Time To Get Tested For Stds
STDs have different incubation periods. People react differently to STDs, with some people able to produce antibodies as early as a few days after exposure. To get reliable results, youll want to get tested after these incubation periods:
- chlamydia : 7 to 21 days
- gonorrhea : 1 to 14 days
- syphilis: 3 weeks to 20 years
- hepatitis A: 15 to 50 days
- hepatitis B: 60 to 150 days
- hepatitis C: 2 to 26 weeks
- oral herpes: 2 to 12 days
- genital herpes: 2 to 12 days
- HPV: 1 month to 10 years
trichomoniasis: 5 to 28 days
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How To Diagnose Herpes
Genital herpes is typically diagnosed through examination by a medical professional and a blood test. If you suspect you have genital herpes , you can take an antibody test.
To test for 6 other common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, try the Everlywell home STD Test for women or the STD Test for men. After you collect your sample at home, it is received and analyzed at the lab, and the test results are sent to you quickly and discreetly via our secure, online platform.
How Accurate Is The Herpes Test
Taking a swab of a lesion is the most accurate way to test for herpes. If you receive a positive result from a sore, you can be certain that you have herpes. A swab can also tell you whether you have HSV-1 or HSV-2. Unfortunately, a swab can also give you a false negative. Youre especially likely to get a false negative if the lesion has been present for more than 48 hours, as it will begin to heal after that time. False negatives from viral cultures are more likely with each subsequent outbreak.
A PCR test is more accurate than a swab test and is a good option both for those who do have current sores and those who do not.
Blood tests do not look for an active herpes outbreak. Rather, they check the blood for antibodies. There are two types of antibodies that may be present: IgM and IgG. IgG antibodies appear shortly after you become infected with herpes and stay in the body for life. IgG testing is more accurate than IgM testing.
IgM tests can yield a false negative if youve recently become infected with herpes, as you might not have these antibodies yet. Over time, IgM antibodies will go away, so you can get a false negative between outbreaks as well. Some IgM tests also cross-react with similar viruses that cause chickenpox or mono, so you may also get a false positive.
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What Is The Process Of Testing For Herpes
If you have a blister or sore, your local healthcare provider will test for herpes by taking a swab of fluid from the sore. Your doctor will send this sample to a laboratory for a viral culture to determine whether you have herpes. Its best to get the sore tested within 48 hours of its appearance.
If you dont have sores, your doctor can take a blood sample to test for herpes. This test looks for herpes simplex virus antibodies which let your healthcare provider know that you have had a past herpes infection.
Nurx offers prescription cold sore and genital herpes treatment for as little as $0 with insurance or $15 per month without insurance.
Another way to test for herpes is with a polymerase chain reaction test. This test uses PCR to make a copy of your DNA using blood, spinal tissue, a tissue sample from a suspected herpes sore. This test can then examine your DNA for the presence of HSV and identify which type of HSV is present.
Things You Can Do To Help
Antivirals are only designed to stop the virus multiplying and will not help your discomfort in the short term. For this, there are a few simple things you can do to ease the discomfort and speed up the healing process:
- Apply an ice pack or ice cubes in a plastic bag
- Take a cool shower to soothe the blisters
- Apply a local, over-the-counter anaesthetic cream such as lidocaine
- Gently bathe the area with warm salt water
- Carefully pat the area dry
- If weeing is painful, go to the toilet in a warm bath or shower
- Wash your hands before and after touching the infected area to avoid introducing bacteria
- Keep hydrated and drink extra fluids
- Wear loose, cotton clothing
- Use an over-the-counter painkiller to help with pain and discomfort
Avoid washing your genitals too often when you have an outbreak, as this wont help to alleviate the symptoms.
The antivirals are safe to use with hormonal contraception but talk to the person prescribing the treatment to make sure.
Genital herpes can be safely treated during pregnancy. It is important to discuss with your midwife if you have, or have had, herpes infections. The treatment you receive may depend on whether it is your first herpes infection and also where in the pregnancy you are but your midwife will advise you.
It is strongly advised that you do not have any sexual contact before or during an outbreak and for a week after your symptoms have completely gone.
Talking to people about STIs
STIs and Stigma
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Get The Facts About Men And Stds
At any given time there are about 50 million men living with an STD in the United States, many of who are unaware of their condition due to the absence of signs and symptoms. This makes the STD testing process particularly tricky for men, as they often do not know they are infected and need to be treated. If a male does show signs and symptoms of an STD, then the type of test needed to cure the STD is dependent on the type of infection being tested for. The main three testing methods are urine sample, body fluid sample, and/or blood sample. The turn around time for results depends on the infection being tested for.
Some of the most severe STDs do not show any signs or symptoms, yet put a person at risk of severe illness and spreading their infection. Whether you are experiencing symptoms or not, if you are a sexually active male with multiple sex partners or if you are unsure about your sexual health, it is always a good idea to get routine STD screenings every 3 to 6 months.
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Which Herpes Test Should You Get
Each method of testing for herpes has advantages and disadvantages, from time and cost, to an increased possibility of false results. Often, people concerned about the virus use a range of herpes testing to get a more accurate, proven picture of whether or not theyre infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Since herpes is a lifelong infection that cant be cured, its important to discuss testing options with your healthcare provider and make sure you receive an accurate result. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you more about the best options for herpes testing based on your symptoms and situation.
Typically, your healthcare provider will carry out a physical exam before choosing the best testing method for you. As herpes symptoms tend to be worst during the initial outbreak of the virus, its best to talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you start experiencing symptoms.
In the event that you do have herpes, theres no need to panic. Both oral and genital herpes are extremely common, and a variety of effective treatments are available for both.
Our Valacyclovir 101 guide goes into more detail about one of the most common, effective drugs for treating both symptomatic and asymptomatic herpes. You can also learn more about the risk of catching herpes in our guide to how herpes is transmitted between people.
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What Happens During An Hsv Test
HSV testing is usually done as a swab test, blood test, or lumbar puncture. The type of test you get will depend on your symptoms and health history.
- For a swab test, a health care provider will use a swab to collect fluid and cells from a herpes sore.
- For a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
- A lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is only done if your provider thinks you may have an infection of the brain or spinal cord. During a spinal tap:
- You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
- A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
- Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
- Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
- Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.