Britons who are worried about lumps and bumps on their genitals can now send pictures of their genitals to doctors for medical advice.
Better2Know, a private sexual health testing provider, offers to check the sensitive images for signs of STIs at a price of £160.
A doctor looks for rashes, lumps or blemishes around the penis or vagina, which could be a sign of herpes, genital warts, pubic lice or syphilis.
They will discuss the results with the patient over the phone, but treatment is not included in the hefty cost, and would be an added £25.
Data privacy experts called the service 'irresponsible', warning pictures sent from personal email addresses could easily be hacked.
They fear users of the controversial service could be blackmailed, if their sensitive pictures were intercepted, or be identified and shamed online.
You can now receive a doctor's advice on embarrassing symptoms by sending photos of your genitals over email after Better2Know created an online STI checker
The new Better2Know STI checker was created for patients who are too shy to go a clinic or GP surgery about their symptoms.
First, a person must book a photo consultation over the phone or webchat and give payment before they can send a picture.
Each patient will be given a 'unique PIN number' to use instead of their name when sending photos over email.
However, it is not clear how their personal email address would be anonymised.
A team of sexual health advisers who monitor the inbox arrange for an experienced doctor to examine the photo. It is not clear how the image will be passed around, or how many people will see it.
The doctor then contacts the user by phone to discuss their analysis and suggest any necessary further steps, such as attending a clinic for tests.
A face-to-face consultation with a doctor at one of the hundreds of Better2Know clinics in the UK costs £50 less than the photo consultation, at £110.
Anthea Morris, co-founder of Better2Know, claimed some patients can feel anxious about getting tested for an STI, especially if it is their first time.
She added: 'Our hope is that the photo consultation service will be the first step for many on a journey towards better sexual health.'
The service could help patients get diagnosed quicker, preventing the spread of STIs and delays in treatment which can have grave consequences.
For example, if syphilis is left untreated it can spread to the brain, eyes or internal organs. It can lead to death, in rare cases.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea, which typically cause abnormal discharge, can cause preventable pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.
The launch of the service comes amid a spike in STIs in England. In 2018, there were 447,694 new diagnoses – a five per cent increase from 2017.
Health experts have blamed the use of dating apps for casual and unprotected sex, and a culture of shame when it comes to check-ups.
However, cyber-security experts have criticised the service, saying hackers could intercept the emails and find out who sent pictures and where they live.
James Knight, a senior principal of Digital Warfare Corp, a specialist cyber-security consulting firm for businesses, said he would not be using the latest service as means of STI testing, should he ever need to.
The service encourages patients to send an image of the symptoms on their genitals to a 'private inbox' (pictured, the website)
He told MailOnline: 'Sending photos and health information in an email, unencrypted over the Internet is not a good idea. The data could be intercepted and viewed.
'Then there is the metadata on the photo that may give identity away such as the GPS coordinates of your house.
Clinics are 'struggling' to cope with soaring numbers of STIs because dating apps are encouraging casual sex, experts have warned warned.
Cases of syphilis rose by half in Wales between 2016 and 2017, and record numbers of over-65s are getting syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia in England, figures have shown.
Experts and doctors in the field have warned the fast turnaround of partners and rise in casual sex fuelled by online dating apps may be making catching an STI more likely.
And they also make it more difficult to contact past partners, who may not have mutual friends.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
Dr Olwen Williams, president of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV told the