If You're Googling Your STD Symptoms, The Info Could Be 'Totally Untrue'

by Candice Jalili
Kylah Benes-Trapp/Shutterstock

So, you went home with a mega hottie from the bar. Kudos to you.

You get back to your place; things are getting hot and heavy. The pants come down; the dress comes off; you tell him to get a condom. Low and behold: he doesn't have one.

Normally, you would stop the action right then and there. But he was really hot, and you were already five tequila shots deep. So you said "YOLO" and went for it anyway.

Flash forward to three days later, and you're CONVINCED you have an STD. You have to take a personal day from work because you're so anxious from Googling what that little bump on your vagina could possibly be.

It's probably an ingrown hair, but your brain is not in the position to consider logic right now, so instead, you panic.

"OMG, I absolutely have HPV. Wait! Maybe it's herpes! AAAHHHHHH."

OK, wait. Pause. Stop. It's OK to panic, but not without just cause. And as of right now, you don't really have any. SO CHILL.

Let's evaluate the choices-slash-mistakes you've made and see what kind of solutions are viable.

Mistake number one: You had unprotected sex with a stranger. It happened, and you can't do anything to change it. It's time to move forward.

Mistake number two: Your first move was to Google your symptoms. And you're not alone in this one.

According to our recent Sex ED survey, the majority of both millennial men (62%) and women (53%) would do this first if they think they had an STD (yes, even before going to see their doctor). 

Which, unfortunately, is a problem, according to two New York City health experts, Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger, Director of Urology at New York Urology Specialists, and Nancy Beth Lebowitz, MD, FACOG, clinical instructor at Cornell Medical School and Assistant Attending Physician at Weill Cornell.

Here, they share exactly what's wrong with Googling your symptoms:

According to Dr. Alex, the internet has a tendency to misdiagnose.

Symptoms of common STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, ureaplasma) such as burning with urination, frequent urination and urinary urgency can also be caused by regular bacterial infection that can occur after sex in both men and women. These symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions such as overactive bladder and even bladder cancer, for example. If you have a concern, the best way to get an answer is to get tested. Many STDs may not even cause symptoms. For example, HIV and ureaplasma.

According to Dr. Lebowitz, the internet can have some dated information.

Unfortunately, not all information is updated. And I'll give you a perfect example: Patients go online and they see some of the old information that says once you have HPV, you always have it. Totally untrue! You can clear HPV. Your immune system can eradicate it. So I get these patients coming in panicked, thinking they're never going to get rid of it because that's what the internet said and a lot of that is old thinking. Updated sites don't say that, but you get to one wrong site, and you can get the wrong information, causing undue anxiety. It's fine to try to educate yourself, but always check with your doctor because not all information on the internet is correct. It's not always screened.

Yikes! OK, so those are two very strong reasons for why you shouldn't be heading to the ol' Google machine when there's something funky going on down below.

It may know everything there is to know about the Kardashians and fantasy football, but it's not always such an expert about your vagina.

So stop Googling "WHY DOES MY VAGINA BURN" and call or make an appointment with your doctor.

Read more from our Sex ED series.