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Patients in Ireland can turn to an online video doctor consultation to discuss the best treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and other illnesses that they would prefer not to discuss with their regular Doctor.
In 2017 there was an 11.2% increase in reported STIs in Ireland from the previous year, making it a common reason for patients to book an appointment with their Doctor. It can be a difficult subject for patients to discuss with their family doctor, out of a fear of embarrassment, a fear of pain or the fear that the doctor might find something else wrong with them.
What Are the Common Type of STIs?
According to data from the HSE, Chlamydia is the most common STI in Ireland and is transmitted during sexual intercourse. One of the key dangers of this STI is that people can continue to pass it on to others, unaware that they are infected as symptoms do not always present with this infection. When symptoms do occur, they can come in the form of pain or a burning sensation during urination, or in the form of lower abdomen pain.
There were nearly 900 cases of Gonorrhoea reported in Ireland for 2017 in 14 to 24 year olds, up 19.1% from 2016, and is easily passed between people through unprotected sexual intercourse. Typical symptoms of Gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating and (in women) bleeding between periods. However, around 1 in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women don’t experience any symptoms.
Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus and can be spread by skin on skin contact even if there is no penetrative sexual intercourse. These are the third most common sexually transmitted infections in Ireland.
What happens if I leave an STI untreated?
Most STIs can be treated, however if diseases like Chlamydia are left untreated for a long time it can lead to serious complications in both men and women. Infected men might see, inflammation of the testicles and arthritis. Women might see an inflammation of the pelvis and in the worst-case scenario complications during pregnancy.
HIV and Aids
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is perhaps one of the most serious diseases that can be passed on via sexual intercourse. Untreated, HIV can turn into AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) a life-threatening disease. If you think that you might have been exposed to HIV you can arrange a test at your Doctor.
How Can an Online Doctor Help?
An online doctor can talk you through symptoms, give advice about possible STI causes and explain some of the physical testing that you might go through if you must visit a specialist clinic. In this situation the online doctor will also provide piece of mind and be able to give you accurate information and hopefully stop you from worrying yourself by ‘Googling symptoms’.
Will I Still Need Further Tests?
If the doctor is concerned that you may have an STI, it’s very likely that you will be advised to visit an STI clinic or seek referral from a Doctor. The online doctor can’t directly refer you to be physically tested. The doctor’s mission is to look after you to the best of their ability, so while it might be frustrating to have to talk to another medical professional after your consultation, it’s all in your best interest.
Can I Get Instant STI Treatment from An Online Doctor?
In some cases, for example when a patient has previously been diagnosed with genital herpes infection and is now presenting with recurrent symptoms, an online doctor may be able to authorise the continuation of treatment.
How Can I Prevent STIs?
The easiest way to prevent your exposure to STIs is to reduce your sexual partners and to practice safe sexual intercourse with the use of latex condoms. It’s advised to know the sexual history of any regular intercourse partner and to get regularly tested.