No Silent Treatment

Smut isn't the only thing that sells well online. STD treatments also trade briskly in the anonymous e-commerce world, where the afflicted can avoid the shame of being spotted at a local clinic. The problem, says a new study from Britain's University of East Anglia, is that do-it-yourself remedies are often unregulated, untested—and unclear about the side effects. Researchers found 52 U.K. and U.S. vendors selling 77 dubious medications, many claiming natural or herbal ingredients, to treat genital warts, herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Almost half promised results, but hardly any offered evidence of effectiveness beyond breathless testimonials—misleading because many STDs have periods during which they show no symptoms. "You think you've treated yourself," says the study's coauthor, Dr. Roberto Vivancos, "but the infection is still there, silent." Worse, less than a quarter of the remedies discussed side effects, nor did they offer advice on how to avoid reinfection or infecting others. "There are no alternative treatments shown to be effective," says Vanessa Cullins, VP for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood. You might be better off sticking to smut.