You called your insurance, you got the list of doctors who are on your plan, you called 12 of them to get an appointment within the next three months, and now you’re ready. You’ve finally scheduled an appointment! Congratulations!
That was a lot of work, wasn’t it?
And that’s just for finding a primary care provider. The search for specialists — like gynecologists and mental health providers — can be even more frustrating, especially for people without health insurance.
And then there’s the issue of comfort. Let’s face it: most people are uncomfortable talking about their genitals with anyone, even a doctor. Discomfort leads to avoidance, which means that people are putting off important preventative care visits all because we’re embarrassed about our bodies. And that’s a really big deal, because more than 50% of people will get an STI at some point in their lives.
Taking care of your sexual health can seem like an unpleasant inconvenience, but it shouldn’t be that way.
Luckily, the creators of these 5 apps agree. And they’re here to help.
These apps can help you book appointments, ask questions safely and anonymously, and just have fun while learning about your body. And an extra plus? You don’t have to pay to download them.
1. Maven gets you face to face with a real doctor, from the comfort of your own home.
One day a few months ago, one of my coworkers walked into the office bubbling with excitement. She had just had an appointment to get birth control — over a video call on her cell phone. For someone who doesn’t own a car or have health insurance, that appointment was a game-changer.
Maven is every over-worked, over-scheduled person’s dream. The app, launched in April 2015, allows users to talk with doctors face-to-face through video call technology — so you can make your appointment and never have to leave your bed. We’re talking birth control consultations, birth education, and even therapy appointments. Maven’s rates are lower than most copays: their sliding scale starts at just $15, and there are no hidden costs, so you won’t be surprised by a bill in the mail afterwards.
If the idea of a “teledoctor” sounds scary to you, Maven’s got your back. The app doesn’t just list providers, they require a rigorous application process before providers can be affiliated with the app. According to the Founder & CEO, Kate Ryder, Maven only has a 35% provider acceptance rate.
Though Maven’s tagline is “health and wellness by women, for women,” don’t let that fool you — Maven is open to people of all genders to use.
2. Bedsider helps you find your best birth control option.
When I’m teaching workshops at colleges, one of the most common questions students ask is “can I get an IUD? I heard that I can’t.” After assuring them that yes, people who haven’t had kids can get IUDs, and yes, you can get an IUD if you’re under 30, I tell them that they should check out Bedsider.org for more information on different forms of birth control.
Bedsider is hands-down one of the most comprehensive birth control information websites out there. Their site allows you to look at an interactive method-by-method breakdown of different birth control options, ranging from withdrawal (the pull-out method) and fertility awareness to IUDs and sterilization.
3. Lemonaid has nothing to do with lemons, and everything to do with urgent care.
Lemonaid seeks to make treating common complaints easier for those with busy schedules and without insurance. Users fill out a questionnaire about their current health concerns, upload a picture of their face (per state regulations), and a medical provider writes a prescription.
It’s that simple.
Users can get prescriptions for birth control pills, antibiotics, acid reflux, and more. There is no sliding scale: you just pay $15 flat. Unfortunately, Lemonaid is only available in a few states — California, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.
4. My Sex Doctor isn’t actually a doctor at all.
My Sex Doctor is like an encyclopedia entirely focused on sex. It offers hundreds of definitions, descriptions of STI symptoms, and answers to commonly asked questions all in one app. For sex geeks and curious learners alike, this app creates an awesome learning space.
While this app doesn’t give you access to an actual doctor, it can give you is the comfort and safety of being able to get your questions answered anonymously. Which brings me to…
5. SexPositive is the best cell phone game you’ll download today. Or ever.
Ask a sex educator what their favorite group activity is, and they’ll probably tell you that they love teaching games. Because really, what’s not to love about learning and having fun? When I found out about this app, I told all of my friends about it and we played it together, giggling every time the spinner landed on “finger on nose.”
SexPositive is the sexual health Wheel of Fortune that you didn’t know you needed in your life. Developed by the University of Oregon Health Center, the app allows users to identify the risks associated with different behaviors.
While they’re a ton of fun, apps like SexPositive are also incredibly important for folks who might be embarrassed about not knowing about, say, the potential risk of pregnancy from a hand job.
Because trust me, people have a lot of questions that they’re embarrassed to directly ask someone. Just check out this basket of anonymous question cards at The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health (The CSPH) for proof:
Shame shouldn’t prevent you from seeking quality health care. You deserve to have your questions answered and your health needs fulfilled.
Whether you’re looking for information, discrete treatment, or even just convenience, these apps are helping make it happen.