Women who feel embarrassed talking to their doctor about sexual health issues can seek advice from the privacy of their own home after the launch of an online health and symptom checker.
The NHS Direct site allows women to seek advice on issues including sexually transmitted diseases, period problems, loss of sex drive and pain when urinating or during sex.
NHS Direct’s chief nurse Helen Young said: “Our health and symptom checkers can provide confidential and evidence-based advice quickly or signpost patients to the most appropriate place to get help.”
Users are asked several questions and given suggestions based on their response, which can include self-care advice to manage their situation at home, and a recommendation to seek further advice from a GP, A&E or a sexual health clinic.
If women want to discuss the next steps they might take, they can select an option requesting a call from an NHS Direct nurse adviser, which can be done anonymously.
Three-quarters of the 12,000 calls a month that NHS Direct fields on sexual health issues involve women, with the most common symptoms being vaginal bleeding, dysuria (painful urination), rectal bleeding, vaginal discharge, and advice about emergency or missed contraception.
There is already an equivalent site available for men at www.nhs.uk/nhsdirect.