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Home Forums Sexual Health People are using reddit, not doctors, to diagnose their STIs

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    “Thousands of people are turning to strangers online instead of their doctors when facing a sexually transmitted infection – but experts say that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

    Came across this article today, which discusses a study that found people were turning to reddit to ask questions about or be diagnosed with an STI.

    Why do you think this is happening?
    Have you or would you “crowd source” a diagnosis?


    I think the fact that people are talking about sexual health and STIs online on popular sites such as reddit that has the potential to be seen by a lot of young people is a good thing because it is de-stigmatising STIs and making discussing them and sexual health more of a normal and comfortable thing. However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get a diagnosis from strangers online as it could be inaccurate and may deter some people from actually seeking medical attention.

    I suppose it’s happening because it’s easier to talk about sex and STIs online anonymously rather than face-to-face particularly if you are young and still see your family doctor who may know your parents so there might be a fear that they might tell their parents about things they have discussed.

    I have googled my symptoms of things before to get a general idea but I have always then gone and seen my GP and gotten tests done to confirm and be prescribed the correct medication. I feel like going to online places like reddit initially isn’t a bad idea as they can offer support for people I just think that they shouldn’t take anything someone online has said as a diagnosis and should always follow up with proper medical advice from their local GP.


    I think it’s okay too. I would probably consider posting something online if I was super anxious about it and the doctor I go to wasn’t available for a few days (which she normally isn’t). But if I could get an appointment ASAP I wouldn’t. If it was over the weekend my symptoms came up I would probably find myself googling for sure. But I definitely think it’s also super important to go to your GP in addition to that and that an online diagnosis definitely does not replace an in-person one! I think it’s good for people who are seeking reassurance or further information, but it’s important to supplement that with knowledge from a medical professional.


    @goldenrose yes, it’s definitely a sign that sexual health is slowly but surely becoming destigmatised!

    That’s so important – the more we talk about it, the more people understand the issues that they may or currently face.

    I imagine this would actually benefit face to face interactions with doctors – if people go in with a base of knowledge, they might be able to better communicate their health issues or concerns.

    One concern I have with the increased use of sources like reddit is whether it might contribute to anxiety. It’s great to get reassurance online, but if there’s still a ‘what if’ left in people’s minds, it’s free and easy to continue to ask questions that they may already have the answer for, e.g. seeking multiple answers for whether someone is at risk of pregnancy.


    @aunt_flo that’s a good point about contributing to anxiety. On one hand it’s a good sign that STDs and sex are being discussed more to de-stigmatise them but on the other it may have a “fear-mongering” sort of effect and create anxiety around having sex for some young people if these discussions aren’t done right.

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