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    Most googled STI symptoms

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      The most googled STI symptoms: why ‘Doctor Google’ shouldn’t be the only medical professional you consult

      Ever googled a cure when you’ve noticed something isn’t quite right *down there*? 

      We’re all guilty of turning to the internet to diagnose ourselves in times of trouble. Diagnosing yourself through search engines is one thing, but not seeking a second opinion from a qualified medical professional can be dangerous.

      As many as 59% of the UK google their health symptoms before seeing a doctor. The same study suggests that less than a fifth of people frequently follow up with a doctor after searching for their symptoms online. 

      In recent years we’ve seen an increase in people searching the internet for STI symptoms, which could mean a lot of people are either diagnosing themselves or not seeking the medical help they need. 

      While relying on a search engine is the easy option that can spare some blushes, it’s not definitely not accurate. The only way to truly discover if you’ve got an STI is to get tested.

      In a bid to stop people diagnosing themselves digitally, we decided to find out how much of a role ‘Dr Google’ is playing in the UK to help people self-diagnose and self-treat suspected STIs. 

      Our research showed that England is searching for STI symptoms and treatments at 377 times the rate they’re being diagnosed. This means there’s a high likelihood people are going undiagnosed for various STIs across the country as they rely on Google rather than STI tests.

      Let’s find out more…

      Recent STI data for England

      Using data provided by Public Health England, we can look at which places in England are being diagnosed with the most STIs per 100,000 people

      Cases per 10000 people 
      RankLocationSyphilisGonorrhoeaChlamydia Genital wartsGenital herpesHIVAll STIs
      -England1210128649366490
      1London6453951211037131275
      2Portsmouth149665775539904
      3Brighton and Hove60188460956912884
      4Nottingham1219055972346872
      5Southampton14100600673910830
      6Manchester33183409915415785
      7Leeds611853151398753
      8Liverpool913046560428714
      9Newcastle683393646210617
      10Peterborough1010541347328614
      11Salford24124348673110603
      12Reading1310733684427589
      13Blackpool2410632648745583
      14Derby712736340387583
      15Leicester214934133319563
      16Bristol188134273427562
      17Coventry8107331493610540
      18Middlesbrough276737734303537
      19Bournemouth88031659427512
      20Bedford68134527259493
      21Luton1591313322516493
      22Stoke-on-Trent1412427636373490
      23Plymouth73829086554481
      24Milton Keynes468326251723462
      25Wolverhampton89728136326460
      26Gateshead77528244385451
      27Sunderland56430137244434
      28Birmingham610627125187432
      29York44025574353411
      30Swindon94524263386403
      31Hull86621250514391
      32Slough1286206412712383
      33Sheffield0572871775373
      34Bradford68220833284360
      35Cambridgeshire63824237216350

      Which places are searching for STIs rather than being diagnosed for them? 

      When you compare STI diagnosis data with search data, you begin to realise that we’re searching for STI symptoms and treatments at a much higher rate than they’re being diagnosed. 
      STI map of UK

      Rank

      Location

      Monthly searches for STI symptoms and treatments

      Average STI diagnosis per 100,000 people

      How many more searches than diagnosis?

      Most searched STI

      Most diagnosed STI

      -

      England

      184800

      490

      377.4

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      1

      London

      34480

      1275

      27.0

      Chlamydia

      Gonorrhoea

      2

      Birmingham

      5720

      432

      13.2

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      3

      Manchester

      4060

      785

      5.2

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      4

      Bristol

      2750

      562

      4.9

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      5

      Sheffield

      1790

      373

      4.8

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      6

      Leeds

      3230

      753

      4.3

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      7

      Liverpool

      2980

      714

      4.2

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      8

      Coventry

      1410

      540

      2.6

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      9

      Bradford

      900

      360

      2.5

      HIV

      Chlamydia

      10

      Leicester

      1370

      563

      2.4

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      11

      Newcastle

      1430

      617

      2.3

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      12

      Hull

      880

      391

      2.3

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      13

      Wolverhampton

      890

      460

      1.9

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      14

      Plymouth

      920

      481

      1.9

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      15

      Bournemouth

      930

      512

      1.8

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      16

      Cambridgeshire

      590

      350

      1.7

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      17

      Nottingham

      1450

      872

      1.7

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      18

      Derby

      960

      583

      1.6

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      19

      York

      650

      411

      1.6

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      20

      Sunderland

      640

      434

      1.5

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      21

      Reading

      860

      589

      1.5

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      22

      Stoke-on-Trent

      710

      490

      1.4

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      23

      Swindon

      570

      403

      1.4

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      24

      Salford

      800

      603

      1.3

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      25

      Slough

      490

      383

      1.3

      Gonorrhoea

      Chlamydia

      26

      Bedford

      630

      493

      1.3

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      27

      Milton Keynes

      550

      462

      1.2

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      28

      Gateshead

      460

      451

      1.0

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      29

      Peterborough

      610

      614

      1.0

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      30

      Middlesbrough

      520

      537

      1.0

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      31

      Brighton and Hove

      830

      884

      0.9

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      32

      Southampton

      710

      830

      0.9

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      33

      Portsmouth

      750

      904

      0.8

      Chlamydia

      Chlamydia

      34

      Blackpool

      480

      583

      0.8

      Genital Herpes

      Chlamydia

      35

      Luton

      400

      493

      0.8

      Gonorrhoea

      Chlamydia

      How much are we googling STIs?

      Our study shows that England is searching for STI symptoms and treatments at a rate of 377 times more than they’re being diagnosed.

      We have broken this down in the table below for detailed results on exactly which STIs are being searched for the most in England.

      STI

      Monthly searches for symptoms and treatments

      Average STI diagnosis per 100,000 people

      How many more searches than diagnosis?

      Syphilis

      25800

      12

      2107x

      Gonorrhoea

      28800

      101

      285x

      Chlamydia

      64300

      286

      225x

      Genital warts

      12800

      49

      263x

      Genital herpes

      9000

      36

      248x

      HIV

      44100

      6

      7793x

      As you can see, symptoms and treatments for HIV are being searched for 7793 times more than it’s being diagnosed in England, meaning there is a high potential that people are searching for advice about HIV without seeking help from their doctor.  

      Chlamydia is the most searched AND most diagnosed STI in England

      We looked at the number of times STIs are googled across major cities in England and found that chlamydia is the most searched for STI in the country. Out of 35 cities, it was the most googled in a total of 23 locations. 64,300 people are searching for both the symptoms and treatments for chlamydia every month! 
      Coming in second place for searches was genital herpes, with a total of 9 cities googling the STI the most. While in second place, searches for genital herpes treatments and symptoms are around 9,000 every month in the UK.

      Much like the search results, chlamydia was far and away the most diagnosed STI in England, with 286 people in every 100,000 diagnosed with this sexually transmitted infection across the country. 

      The second most diagnosed STI in England is Gonorrhoea (otherwise known as ‘the clap’) at a rate of 101 in every 100,000. Which again, pales in comparison to the likes of chlamydia. 

      Which STIs should you be looking out for?

      There are a wide range of STIs out there, which can be spread in different ways. That’s why everyone who is sexually active should be taking regular STI tests. Many STIs are now easily treatable, but getting diagnosed early is key. 

      Chlamydia

      As the most common curable STI in the UK, chlamydia doesn’t always have tell-tale symptoms. Men and women can be infected with chlamydia in their throat or bottom (rectum) if they've had unprotected oral or anal sex respectively. And for some rare cases it can result in problems with fertility. Because the symptoms often go unnoticed, it’s even more important that people take tests. 

      Herpes

      Genital herpes is a common STI that causes a recurring rash of red blisters around the genitals. Because it’s caused by the incurable herpes simplex virus, it won’t go away after treatment. You can expect repeated bouts of the symptoms, followed by long periods in which you have no symptoms at all. 

      Spread through skin to skin contact, many sufferers won’t notice they have been exposed to the infection for months or years because the symptoms often go unnoticed at first.

      Genital Warts

      Genital warts are small, fleshy growths or bumps found in the genital or anal area caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)
      Although occasionally sore and itchy, most cases of genital warts are completely harmless and painless. Though they’re not always particularly nice to look at and they can lead to a loss of confidence and anxiety.

      Gonorrhoea

      Also known as ‘the clap’, gonorrhoea can lead to a variety of uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms if not treated. The infection is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex (and shared sex toys if not washed after use). 
      Gonorrhoea is the third most commonly diagnosed STI in England and if left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and painful infections in the testicles and prostate gland in men.

      HIV

      HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, normally over a long period of time, and leaves you unable to fight off infections and disease. There is no cure for HIV but it can be managed very effectively these days if you test regularly and catch it early. If left untreated, however, HIV can develop into AIDS. 
      Mainly spread through unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, it is estimated there are more than 100,000 people living with HIV in England, and around 6,600 of those people are undiagnosed.

      Why it’s important to get tested regularly

      Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, it’s a really good thing to do for your health. 

      Not only will it help you get diagnosed earlier (which means you can start getting treatment sooner), but it will also protect you from passing on STIs to sexual partners. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, it’s important that you get tested regularly to ensure you can continue to have safe sex.

      Unfortunately, lots of people feel embarrassed about talking about their sexual health or going to get tested, which puts them off visiting their GP or local sexual health clinic. 

      If you want to get tested but you’d rather do it from the comfort of your own home, Online Doctor stock safe and reliable home STI kits that you can use at home and post to our lab for testing.

      Leave it to the professionals… 

      Ultimately, Google can do a good job at explaining the symptoms you’re experiencing, but you should never use the search engine to self-diagnose. If you’re worried about something, the best thing to do is seek medical advice and get tested. 

      References

      https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/complications/
      https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/about-hiv/hiv-statistics

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