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Woman on laptop getting STD prescription online from healthcare provider

STD prescription online: how it works

Written on December 1, 2022 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


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Even just imagining talking to a pharmacist about a prescription for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), surrounded by other shoppers, is enough to make you cringe. You are not alone. For many, STI stigma scares them from seeking testing or treatment. Telehealth, at-home STI testing like Everlywell’s Sexual Health tests, and online STI treatment is making it much easier (and less cringy) for you to take care of your sexual health. Keep reading to learn more about how to get your STI prescriptions online.

Online STD prescriptions offer an innovative answer to the sexual health crisis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in five people have an STI [1]. There were 26 million new STI cases in 2018, disproportionately infecting young adults ages 15-24 with limited access to pharmacies or public health clinics for treatment [1]. The most commonly reported reasons for not getting STI testing or treatment are cost, lack of access, time, and discomfort in visiting a sexual health clinic [2].

Making STI prescriptions available online will remove key barriers to accessing rapid and effective treatment, reducing the spread of STIs. As a result of pandemic clinic shutdowns, many states introduced legislation that made it easier for healthcare providers to see patients remotely, evaluate the results of at-home STI tests, and send STI prescriptions by mail [2].

How do online pharmacies work?

Online pharmacies work just like retail pharmacies. The main difference with online pharmacies is that your meds are sent right to your mailbox, so no drugstore disguise with a wig or sunglasses is needed. There are two different kinds of online pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies and independent online pharmacies.

How are independent and mail-order online pharmacies different?

Pharmacy benefit management companies run most mail-order pharmacies. Your insurance may partner with a specific mail-order pharmacy listed on your insurer’s website. Other online pharmacies will list which types of insurance they take on their websites.

Independent online pharmacies don’t have relationships with specific health plans, so they may or may not accept your insurance. Sometimes they will source less expensive drugs from other countries. Choosing an independent online pharmacy recommended by your insurance company is one way to ensure the safety and quality of your medications.

How should I choose an online pharmacy for my STI prescription?

When choosing which online pharmacy to use for your STI prescription, you might want to find answers to the following questions:

  • Will they deliver to your mailbox, address, or PO box?
  • What does their packaging look like? Is there any labeling that screams STI medication inside?
  • Will your insurance cover the medication if you order through the online pharmacy?
  • How long are their shipping times?
  • Do they track their shipments or offer refunds if your package is delayed or lost?
  • Can the medication my healthcare provider prescribed be shipped through the mail?

Best-in-class online pharmacies provide safe, confidential, and convenient home delivery, accessibility to a wide range of medicines, and a reduction in cost, time to treatment, and, most importantly, embarrassment.

Which STDs can be treated with a prescription medication?

Once you recover from the initial shock of learning that you have an STI, your next thought is, how do I treat my STI? Depending on your diagnosis, there are different treatment options.

Antibiotics are medications that treat STIs by killing bacteria. Bacteria cause the following STDs [3]:

Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and Mgen can all be treated with antibiotics in pill form that can be shipped through the mail. Gonorrhea and syphilis are treated with antibiotics given through an injection that a healthcare provider needs to administer [3].

Viruses, not bacteria, cause other STDs. Most viral STIs cannot be cured. Treatment with antiviral medications can reduce the risk of transmission to partners and limit symptoms and recurrences of the following viral STDs [3]:

  • Herpes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Monkeypox

Vaccines can prevent other viral STDs. The viral STDs we have vaccines for are [3]:

  • Monkeypox
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B

Because vaccines must be administered in person, they are not available through online pharmacies.

Is expedited partner therapy available online?

It depends on which state you live in. Expedited treatment therapy (EPT) is the provision of prescriptions or medications to a person diagnosed with an STD to take to their partner without the health care provider first examining the partner [4]. The CDC has recommended EPT for treating male partners of women with chlamydial infection or gonorrhea since 2006 [4]. At this time, it is unclear which online pharmacies will accept prescriptions written without a partner’s name, which is sometimes done with EPT, and current EPT prescribing policies vary state by state [5].

Can PrEP be ordered online?

Yes. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a tablet taken daily that can effectively prevent HIV infections. The FDA-approved HIV prevention method comprises two antiretrovirals and is intended for people at high risk for HIV infection [4]. Unfortunately, for some people at the highest risk for HIV, accessing PrEP through their primary care provider is not an option. Through its Ready, Set, PrEP program, the U.S. government provides PrEP to registered participants free of charge through either brick-and-mortar pharmacies or mail-order pharmacies [6]. PrEP medications are available through multiple independent online pharmacies, and your insurance company may cover them [6].

Everlywell offers you expanded access to STI testing and STI prescriptions

STD testing is fast and easy with the Everlywell at-home STD test for men, at-home STD test for women, trichomoniasis test, or our other STD panels.

Everlywell believes sexual health is essential to holistic health and well-being. Preventing the spread of STIs is everyone’s responsibility, and knowing your status is a great way to do your part while staying healthy.

Additionally, Everlywell now offers Virtual Care Visits for discreet telemedicine online. With Virtual Care Visits, you can speak with a healthcare provider over video on your schedule and address your symptoms with the right test, prescriptions, and/or lifestyle recommendations.

How to treat an STI without going to a healthcare provider’s office

Can medication be prescribed via telehealth?

Types of telehealth care and services


References

  1. Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevalence, Incidence, and Cost Estimates in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 18, 2021. Accessed November 22, 2022. URL
  2. Sexual health clinics and our nation’s COVID-19 response. National Coalition of STD Clinic Directors. Accessed November 29, 2022. URL
  3. Sexually Transmitted Infection Treatment Guidelines 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 22, 2022. Accessed November 29, 2022. URL
  4. Expedited Partner Therapy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published April 19, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2022. URL
  5. Borchardt LN, Pickett ML, Tan KT, Visotcky AM, Drendel AL. Expedited partner therapy: pharmacist refusal of legal prescriptions. Sex Transm Dis. 2018;45(5):350-353. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000751. URL
  6. Ready, Set, PrEP Expands Access to HIV Prevention Medications. HIV.gov. Published March 18, 2022. Accessed November 29, 2022. URL
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