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A note on sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to sex assigned at birth. Learn more about sex and gender.

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HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Certain strains of HPV can cause genital warts, cervical cancer, and other types of cancer. Early detection of HPV can help people avoid serious health outcomes. For that reason, testing is critical.

At-home HPV tests give people the ability to test often and easily. At-home testing is confidential, less intrusive, and may be less expensive than testing at a doctor’s office.

At-home HPV tests have also been found to reduce the occurrence of cancer in people who live in underserved areas where getting to a medical facility may be challenging.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that at-home HPV tests have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The at-home HPV tests on this list use Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) College of American Pathologist (CAP) certified laboratories that meet federal standards for testing facilities.

They come from well-established, trusted manufacturers who use encryption technology and other safety protocols to ensure user privacy.

Each test has a significant number of positive reviews online, with few to no complaints.

Pricing guide

Some insurance plans may cover the cost of at-home HPV tests. Unless otherwise noted, the prices listed reflect out-of-pocket costs.

We’ve indicated cost as follows:

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$75
  • $$$ = over $75

Most affordable at-home HPV test

Everlywell HPV Test – Female

  • Price: $
  • Sample type: vaginal swab
  • Results in: within days
  • Medical support: none offered

This budget-friendly HPV test can be purchased for one-time use or as a subscription that’s delivered once every 3 months.

Your sample will be sent to a CLIA certified lab and tested for HPV 16, 18, and 45. These three strains are the ones most likely to cause cervical cancer.

Your results will be analyzed by an independent, board certified doctor who’s licensed to practice within your state of residence.

Your results will be ready within several days of the lab receiving your kit. An easy-to-read report that breaks down each HPV marker will be securely sent to your device.

You can use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for the Everlywell HPV test.

Use code “HEALTHLINE25” for 25% off.

Best HPV test with medical support

myLAB Box Home HPV Test Kit

  • Price: $$$
  • Sample type: swab
  • Results in: 2-5 days
  • Medical support: yes

This at-home HPV test kit identifies DNA from HPV 16 and 18. It also tests for one or more of 12 additional high risk types of HPV.

This test is mailed in discreet packaging to protect your privacy.

Your sample will be analyzed in a CLIA and CAP certified laboratory.

According to myLAB Box, your results will be ready within 2 to 5 days.

If your test results are positive for any HPV strain, you can request a free telephone consultation with a physician to discuss next steps. Your consultation and test results are confidential.

Best for women under 30

NURX Home HPV Test Kit

  • Price: $$
  • Sample type: swab
  • Results in: a few days
  • Medical support: yes, for an additional fee

This at-home HPV test looks for 14 high risk strains of HPV, including HPV 16 and 18.

Many at-home HPV test manufacturers won’t send their tests to people under 30 years old. This test is suggested for people ages 25 to 29, and is recommended for people ages 30 and up.

Most commercially available at-home HPV tests don’t accept insurance. If you have an insurance plan that’s in-network with Molecular Testing Labs, NURX will bill your insurance directly. You will still owe a $15 fee for the test, and may also have out-of-pocket costs to pay after your insurance has been billed.

A $15 medical consultation fee is required with purchase. All tests are followed up with a medical consultation. Your medical consultation fee also gives you unlimited messaging with NURX’s medical team for 1 year.

Best for follow-up support

TBD Health HPV Test (for Vagina Havers)

  • Price: $$$
  • Sample type: vaginal swab
  • Results in: 3–5 days
  • Medical support: yes

TBD runs the Roche cobas HPV test. It checks for HPV strains 16 and 18 and a dozen other high risk types.

This at-home HPV test is for females. TBD will not ask for your age at checkout.

TBD offers easy access and unlimited availability of their clinical team via text message. You can also discuss your test results and ask questions about HPV and sexual health via a telemedicine consult for no extra charge.

The kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions. The kit arrives in discreet packaging for your privacy. You return your sample in a prepaid envelope. Once returned, specialists analyze it in a CLIA and CAP certified laboratory within a few days.

TBD accepts HSA and FSA but doesn’t accept health insurance. They will give you a bill you can send to your insurer for possible reimbursement.

This test is not currently available for residents of New York state.

ProductPriceSample typeResults inIncludes medical support
Everlywell HPV Test – Female$swabseveral daysno
myLAB Box Home HPV Test Kit $$$ swab2–5 daysyes
NURX Home HPV Test Kit$$swabseveral daysyes, for an additional fee
TBD Health HPV Test for Vagina Havers$$$swab3–5 daysyes

HPV is the most common type of STI in the United States. It’s transmitted through sexual activity that includes intimate, skin-to-skin contact and genital contact.

There are approximately 150 different HPV strains. Of these, around 14 types are considered high risk. High risk HPV strains include HPV 16 and 18.

High risk forms of HPV can cause several types of cancer, including cancer of the cervix, and penile cancer (cancer of the penis).

Low risk strains of HPV can cause genital warts.

Getting tested often can help identify an HPV infection early, which may also support early detection of cervical cancer and other cancers if they do develop.

At-home HPV tests typically use cervical or vaginal swabs to check for certain high risk HPV strains, including the ones that cause cervical cancer. They work through a process called HPV genotyping. At-home HPV tests detect DNA from around 14 high risk types of the virus.

At-home HPV tests are recommended for females who are over 30 years old. Most commercial HPV tests require cervical or vaginal swabbing, so males can’t use them. However, some tests use a urine sample instead of a cervical swab.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV infections are usually cleared from the body within 2 years. HPV infections that are likely to resolve on their own are common in people under age 30. For that reason, at-home testing isn’t recommended for this age group.

However, if you’re sexually active and have multiple partners, or have a partner who has HPV, talk with a doctor about testing.

At-home HPV testing is beneficial as an added precaution, but it doesn’t take the place of Pap smears or regular gynecological exams.

At-home HPV tests look for up to 14 high risk HPV strains.

If test results are negative, there’s no active HPV infection.

If test results are positive, that means there’s an active HPV infection.

Keep in mind that a positive test doesn’t mean you have cancer. It means you have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, including cervical cancer.

At this time, at-home HPV testing doesn’t identify low risk HPV strains, including the ones that cause genital warts.

At-home test kits are sent to many of the same labs that do testing for medical facilities. At-home HPV tests use CLIA certified laboratories. This helps assure that your test results are accurate and come from a lab that meets federal regulations and standards.

At-home HPV tests require registration with the laboratory before using. Registering your kit adds a layer of protection to your identity by supporting patient privacy compliance, plus ensures that you’ll receive the right test results.

After registering your kit, read the kit’s instructions completely. These instructions will tell you how and when to test. Check the box to make sure you have everything that’s supposed to come with the kit, too.

If you’re using a cervical swab, you may have to wait several days after menstruating to use the kit.

Follow the instructions very carefully when acquiring your test sample. Incorrect self-testing could result in inaccurate results.

After getting your sample, mail it back to the company according to the instructions. Your sample will be tested in a certified lab and analyzed by a medical professional.

Your results will be communicated to you either via email or through a secured website or app.

Reporting procedures about test results can vary between kit manufacturers.

Your results may be positive or negative for specific HPV strains. They may also be normal or abnormal. Your results will come with an explainer about what they mean.

However, it’s always a good idea to have a healthcare professional take a look at your results. Your doctor can explain what your results mean in detail, and provide guidance about ongoing HPV testing.

There’s no medication for HPV. But, don’t stop or start any prescription drug based on your test results before speaking with your doctor.

If you’re confused about your test results, you can print out a copy of your report and bring it to your healthcare professional. They can review it and discuss it with you in detail.

It’s important to let your doctor know if you get a positive test result. According to the CDC, HPV is so common that practically every sexually active person gets it at some point in their lives.

Testing positive means you’re at a heightened risk for certain types of cancer, especially if you’re over the age of 30. Your doctor can recommend a schedule for Pap smears that will keep you safe from HPV complications. They can also recommend testing protocols and safe sex practices for your partner or partners.

If you get a negative test result but have concerns about HPV, you can talk with your doctor about that, too. If you’re comfortable, let them know about your current sexual practices and behaviors that might affect your risk level. Your healthcare professional can recommend an HPV testing schedule that may put your mind at ease.

The manufacturers of HPV tests typically say that their results have an accuracy of 99% or greater. But, human error during testing that affects test results is possible. Because of this, more research is needed to see if home tests can be trusted.

Timing is also important. Some tests require you to send samples back on specific days. Mailing your sample on the wrong day might cause delays in shipping that can diminish your sample’s potency.

Some tests provide instructions about testing after menstruation and sexual activity. Not following these directions exactly may skew test results and give you either a false positive or false negative.

What happens when genital warts are left untreated?

If you have genital warts, talk with a healthcare professional. Prescription medication can treat genital warts. Treatment also reduces the chances of transmitting the virus that causes genital warts to others.

When genital warts remain untreated, they may go away on their own over time. But there’s also a chance they may spread in number or get bigger.

How long after exposure to HPV do you test positive?

Your immune system usually clears out HPV from your body within 2 years. It does this by producing antibodies that fight it.

HPV doesn’t always cause symptoms, so it’s possible to have an infection during this time and not know it. It can also be transmitted to others.

If HPV doesn’t clear, certain types or strains may cause cancer.

What is the best way to detect HPV?

HPV does not always cause symptoms. The only way to know whether you have an infection is through regular HPV testing.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend females who are 30–65 years old get tested regularly for HPV.

There are three options for testing:

  • a Pap test every 3 years
  • an HPV test every 5 years
  • a Pap and HPV test, known as co-testing, every 5 years

Testing can be done at home or in a doctor’s office.

HPV testing does not indicate the presence of cervical cancer or precancerous cells, but a Pap smear does.

What do I do if I have HPV?

There’s no specific treatment for HPV. Most HPV infections clear up on their own without causing health problems.

If your test results are positive for a high risk strain of HPV, it doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer or any other type of cancer. It does increase your risk, though.

For that reason, having regular checkups that include Pap smears is important.

Males who have anal sex can talk with a healthcare professional about their risk of anal cancer from HPV. Some healthcare professionals give anal Pap smears to people with increased risk.

Why is HPV screening so important for females?

HPV is the most common STI in the United States. Practically everyone gets it, but it’s far from harmless.

The HPV virus can turn normal cells into precancerous cells. If you’re female, HPV screening and follow-up Pap smears are your best defense against cervical cancer.

When detected early, cervical cancer is highly curable. When detected late, it can be fatal.

HPV screening provides valuable information about when and how often you should be tested for cervical cancer.

Is there HPV testing available for males?

According to the CDC, there is currently no approved test for males. In fact, they don’t recommend routine testing for HPV in males.

At-home HPV tests are beneficial for uncovering HPV infection from high risk strains, including the ones that cause cervical cancer.

At-home testing is confidential, less intrusive, and may be less expensive than testing in a doctor’s office.

It’s important to keep in mind that at-home HPV tests have not yet been approved by the FDA, and more research is needed to show its effectiveness.

If you do decide to take an at-home test and get a positive result, you should talk with your healthcare professional to discuss follow-ups, treatment, and another test if necessary.