Any anomaly in your nether regions can make you question every sexual encounter you’ve ever had. And when you do notice something unusual, it’s normal to panic and book in an appointment with your GP straight away. But turns out, sexually-active internet users are turning to a totally different place to find out what’s going on with their junk: Reddit.
New research has found that not only are thousands of people turning to the opinion-sharing site to seek help, they’re posting pictures of their not-so-private parts in a bid to get a better diagnosis.
While using the internet for health-related issues isn’t a new phenomenon, asking for real-time feedback from peers is.
“It’s different from ‘Dr Google’ because on Google, you’re searching from information and ciphering through it yourself and trying to figure out what’s relevant,” said lead researcher Alicia Nobles Dr Nobles, a data scientist at the University of California San Diego.
“Whereas on Reddit, you’re reaching out to people like you, asking them what their experience is.”
For their study, scientists looked at the “subreddit” r/STD, a popular thread that discusses sexually transmitted diseases. Users are invited to share “stories, concerns and questions” on “anything and everything STD related”.
The thread has been active for almost 10 years and boasts more than 10,000 members and over 17,000 posts.
Researchers took a random sample from the subreddit, finding that 58 per cent of posts were “explicitly requesting a crowd-diagnosis” while 31 per included a picture of their symptoms.
Most interestingly, many received responses within minutes or hours. Some actually consulted reddit for a “second opinion” after visiting a healthcare professional.
Dr Nobles added that, “leaders take it for granted that the public is relying on Dr Google for all of their health concerns”.
For many STIs, many symptoms have to been seen in the flesh to confirm the diagnosis. But if you do notice changes, there are certain signs that you’re due for a check up. Check out 4 STDs you might already have here.