The short answer is yes–you can go to the emergency room to be tested for an STD. Whether you would like to get tested as a precautionary measure or are experiencing a physical manifestation you think might be related to an STD, you can begin in the emergency room. However, depending on the severity of your symptoms, online STD testing is more often the quicker, more cost-effective and more private option.
Some people choose to go to the emergency room for an STD test because they would prefer not to visit a private practice or their primary care physician. The reasons for this could be related to privacy or the inability to schedule a timely appointment.
The bottom line is that if you are experiencing symptoms and want an answer as soon as possible, you do have options.
What Can I Expect When Getting Tested in an ER?
Getting tested for an STD in an emergency room is fairly straightforward and is similar to the testing process in any other clinical setting. The general process includes the following:
- First, the medical provider checks your physical symptoms and discerns whether they are possibly related to an STD.
- Second, and based on the results of your physical exam, the provider conducts an STD test.
- Third, your blood will be drawn and/or you will be asked to provide a urine sample.
- Fourth, the provider may use a swab to collect samples from the affected area. Incidentally, if you are a female, a pelvic exam will usually be performed.
If you are researching whether you can go to the ER for an STD, you may be currently experiencing some measure of stress, be it low to high. Below, we provide a list of times when it may be necessary to be tested for an STD. Rest assured that you are not alone and there are resources available to you.
Testing may be necessary when:
- You engage in unprotected sex.
- If you discover physical symptoms of an STD.
- Annually, if you are a woman under 25 years of age.
- Annually, if you are sexually active with multiple partners.
- Pregnant women as a precaution to detect syphilis or chlamydia, which could be passed to a baby.
Now that you know you can go to the ER for an STD test, let’s cover how much these tests cost.
How Much Does an STD Test Cost in an ER?
The amount of money you pay for an STD test varies depending on where you go to get it, as well as which tests you need, your income (in some cases), and whether you use insurance to pay for your testing.
In most cases, if you have insurance, the cost can be $50 to $100. In the event that your insurance is not accepted, the maximum amount you should pay is $250.
When Should I go to an ER for STD Testing?
Going to an ER for STD testing might be a good idea if you’re experiencing symptoms that are painful or are interfering with your normal activities. Additionally, if you find yourself in an emergency room for an unrelated reason, that is a good opportunity to request an STD test as a preventative measure.
In a study conducted in the Baltimore, Mayland area, men and women who visited the ER were asked if they would agree to an STD screening.1 Fourteen percent of participants tested positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia.1 This is a formidable number, especially given the highly transmissible nature of these two STDs and the fact that these participants may have passed it to a sexual partner without being aware of its existence in their own bodies.
Symptoms to Look Out For
When you’re considering which symptoms might truly warrant a visit to the emergency room, you want to think in terms of pain level and the intrusive nature of the symptoms themselves. If you are in a great deal of pain and the symptoms are interfering with your daily tasks, a visit to the ER may be warranted.
Here is a list of common STD symptoms that would be considered disruptive, painful and disruptive:
- Painful urination
- Lower abdominal pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Cough and shortness of breath
- Shaking chills or fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C) for several weeks
- Rash marked by red or reddish-brown, penny-sized sores over any area of your body, including your palms and soles of your feet
- Lack of coordination
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and you fear you might have an STD, you should feel free to visit an emergency room for STD testing and treatment.
What Are My Options?
If you would prefer not to go to the ER for an STD test, you do have options. ER visits can be very expensive, and if your symptoms are minor or if you suspect you have contracted an STD but aren’t showing symptoms, these options might make more sense for your situation.
There are several benefits of visiting your primary care physician for an STD test. Such benefits include the following:
- STD testing can become a part of your routine health care and your records are centrally located.
- If the results of your STD tests reveal an infection, you have quick access to treatment.
- Primary care environments can offer a level of comfort during high-stress situations.
However, not all doctor’s offices test for STDs and the sample collection may involve more invasive methods such as swabbing or physical examinations.
The benefits of getting STD testing at an urgent care facility instead of an ER are as follows:
- Visiting an urgent care facility can be less expensive than going to an ER.
- Most people want STD testing to yield quick results, and sometimes it’s easier to get into an urgent care facility for a visit, as opposed to scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician.
- Urgent care facilities offer testing free from your primary care physician, who may have contact with your family and friends.
Along with these benefits, however, walk-in urgent care can require long waits and may not have the privacy measures of online testing.
Order Tests Online
There are myriad benefits of ordering STD tests online. First of all, online testing saves you the costly fees associated with emergency room visits and co-pays at urgent care facilities and your primary care office. What’s more is that ordering online offers accurate testing in a comfortable, safe and private environment.
Other benefits of ordering online STD tests include:
- You take the test when you’re ready.
- No need to feel any embarrassment or nervousness.
- The tests are just as accurate when you order online.
Priority STD Testing offers STD testing for all of the major STDs and STIs in the United States. You can order a test for a single STD or choose tests that test for several different STDs at one time.
The benefits of testing for STDs far outweigh the nervousness you may feel as you consider where to go and who to trust with your STD testing needs. And yes, you can go to the ER for an STD test, but now you’re armed with several options and can choose the one that is right for you.
- Mehta, S. D., Rompalo, A., Rothman, R. E., Londner, M. S., & Zenilman, J. M. Generalizability of STD screening in urban emergency departments: comparison of results from inner city and urban sites in Baltimore, Maryland. Sexually transmitted diseases, 2003, 30(2), 143–148. https://doi.org/10.1097/00007435-200302000-00010