How Does Telemedicine For STD Treatment Work?

Although sexually transmitted diseases are very common, many people don't seek treatment for them. They may be afraid of seeing a provider in-person for their condition out of a fear of being judged, or they may not have easy access to medical services in their area.

Thankfully, STD treatment has been a growing field in telemedicine, with many telemedicine providers offering rapid, discreet treatment for common STDs. How does it work? Read on to find out.

1. Checking Your Symptoms

As with an in-person doctor visit, telemedicine STD treatment begins with you telling the provider your symptoms or filling out a symptoms questionnaire. This helps your telemedicine provider narrow down the list of possible causes of your symptoms.

2. Confirming Your Diagnosis

Once your telemedicine provider has a good idea of what STD you may have, they'll confirm the diagnosis. If you have a STD like herpes, syphilis or genital warts, you may be asked to take pictures of the affected area and send it to your provider — visual inspection is the best way to diagnose these STDs.

For other STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, you may be asked to visit a local clinic for an STD test. This test may either be a urine sample or a urethral swab — both are quick and painless. Some telemedicine providers may offer to send you an at-home test kit if you don't want to visit a testing lab in person.

In some cases, you may not be asked to undergo any testing at all. Some STDs (such as the above-mentioned chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis) cause very similar symptoms and are all treated by antibiotics. Your telemedicine provider may decide that further confirmation is not necessary, since the treatment is the same regardless of which one that you have.

3. Starting Your Treatment

Your telemedicine provider will order medications for you at a nearby pharmacy. Most common STDs are treatable with antibiotics, and genital herpes is treatable with antiviral medications. You'll be able to pick them up and pay for them at your convenience.

If you have genital warts or syphilis, your telemedicine provider may recommend you see a doctor in-person. Genital warts can be treated with various techniques such as cryotherapy and laser therapy, but these need to be administered in-person by a healthcare provider. For syphilis, the gold standard treatment is intramuscular antibiotics, and these also need to be administered in-person.

For most STDs, however, you'll be able to receive STD treatment through telemedicine without ever having to visit a physician's office. If you think that you may have an STD and are worried about seeing anyone in-person for your condition, consider trying a telemedicine approach — it's discreet and your privacy will be protected by your telemedicine provider.