If a weird rash or bump appears on the outside of your vag, the smartest thing to do is show it to a medical professional.
But if you’re uncomfortable pulling down your pants in front of your doctor, there’s a slightly less awkward way to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Send her a photo of your private parts.
The clinical term is telemedicine—the growing field that allows you to “visit” your doctor via text or video chat, rather than in person.
(For a deeper dive into the field, here’s What You Can Expect From a Telemedicine Visit.)
For many health care needs—including your sexual health—a doctor doesn’t need to physically be in the room to treat you, says Ronald S. Weinstein, M.D., founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona.
Sometimes you can even handle a medical issue completely, grabbing a diagnosis and prescription.
Doctors can easily diagnose many common STDs—especially conditions like herpes and genital warts—by looking at photos, says urologist Brian Steixner, M.D., director of the Institute for Men’s Health at the Jersey Urology Group, who has recently started seeing some of his patients via Skype.
(However, some symptoms aren’t visual. Discover 3 STDs You May Already Have.)
Spot something suspicious below the belt? Try using one of these doctor-backed mobile apps for diagnosing STDs.
For less than the cost of doctor visit co-pays, you can upload photos and videos of your condition with a brief description of symptoms, and a licensed dermatologist will give you a diagnosis within 24 hours—but often under five.
If needed, the doctor will call in a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.
Price: Free to download, $40 per consultation.
Availability: iOS only. Available in Illinois, Indiana, Washington, Oregon, and California
Like Dermio, STD Triage is another “ask a dermatologist” app, but doctors don’t call in prescriptions.
You’ll upload two photos of your condition, fill out a basic intake form—i.e. gender, age, location—and within hours, a dermatologist will provide you with a diagnosis and typical treatment plan.
Price: Free to download, $40 to submit a case.
Availability: iOS and Android
Additional reporting by Cindy Kuzma