Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many sexual health services have been reduced in availability unless you are presenting symptoms. As most people who have sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are symptomless, it is still important to be aware of your sexual health status. Freetest.me are a free STI testing service where you can order home testing kits online and receive your results a few days later. As I was last tested over six months ago, I decided to test one out myself:
I ordered the test Sunday night by filling out a form on the https://www.freetest.me/ website. I did this on my phone while chatting to my housemates and it took me five minutes. The website was very discreet and easy to follow; you just give your details, which tests you would like to order and how you would like to be contacted. Like normal STI screenings, your information and results are fully confidential. You will only be contacted however you request freetest.me to do so.
Freetest.me offers tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV (antigen and antibody) and Syphilis (antibody). There are still more forms of STI’s, but the tests still provided some peace of mind and meant I was more aware of my current sexual health status. I had the choice to order a vaginal swab (or urine) test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, or an additional blood sample test for HIV and syphilis. I ordered both as I could choose not to do the blood sample if I wished to later on.
Within four days, I received the freetest.me kit through the post. The box was plain with just my name and address on, so nobody else I lived with knew what it was. The next day, I did the tests at home and sent the samples off on the same day. Postage was simple as well. You place the samples and a small leaflet back inside the box it came in. The address is already on the box and the packaging meant everything inside was secure.
The kit contained a leaflet explaining the contents of the box, how to complete the tests, and how to return and track my samples. This was easy to understand and straightforward, they even include where the nearest post-boxes are to your address. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether I could provide a vaginal swab if I was on my period (update: you can but results will be more accurate if you take it on days when you aren’t bleeding).
Vaginal Swab test:
This test involves inserting a swab (like a long cotton bud) into the vagina, rotating this several times inside your vagina and securing the swab inside the tube afterwards. I had no problems with this, it was simple, clean, and painless.
Blood Sample test:
This was a bit trickier. The test involves pricking your finger with a safety lancet and producing enough blood to fill the collection tube. It’s ideal that they provide several lancets because it took me a few tries to get enough blood, even then, I only just produced enough to meet the testing requirements (tip: use the lancets at the sides of you finger rather than the center). It did get quite messy trying to work out the best way to get the sample, without getting blood anywhere. However, it’s no more painful than having a blood test done at a GUM clinic and they provide plasters inside the kit for you.
Overall, the whole process took a total of about two hours to complete, including ordering the test, completing it, and sending it off. Due to delays because of Covid-19, the kit took over a week to get to the testing facility so it’s really important to send the samples as soon as they’ve been taken. Freetest.me updated me on this and a few days later I received a text letting me know my results had tested negative. This was two weeks after I first ordered the test kit, so not a long wait at all!
I would definitely recommend completing a freetest.me kit if you are due a check on your sexual health status. This was my first time ordering a testing kit online and I will continue to order these even after lockdown. It is recommended that someone who is sexually active should get tested every 3-6 months, or after every new sexual partner. While I will continue to visit a sexual health clinic every six months, using home testing kits means I can keep updated on my sexual health without making multiple trips to a clinic.