Since the COVID 19 pandemic, remote options have become way more available, including in medical spaces. Being able to fill out your personal info from the comfort of your couch in your jammies is a great option, but is it always what’s best for making decisions about your hormone health? What are the pros and cons, and more importantly, are there any risk factors you may want to think about before trialing telehealth?

Why telehealth

In a fast-paced digital world, where people want health solutions at their fingertips, there is ample opportunity for telehealth businesses to boom. And they have, I mean, if you can fill out a few questions and get antibiotics delivered straight to your door, why wouldn’t you opt for such a service?

Like many decisions in life, there are serious pros and cons to consider with both of these options. For now though, let’s start with the pros:

Telehealth consultations

  • Easy to fit it into a busy schedule: many of us don’t feel able to take time from work to see a doctor. Equally, arranging childcare, factoring in time for travel, and waiting for long periods in a clinic can induce stress. In these instances, telehealth is an effective way to ensure you still get support, as opposed to avoiding a consultation completely.
  • Quick and efficient: there’s no disputing that telehealth is a more efficient way to deal with certain health problems. If you have a straightforward concern (perhaps something you have had in the past, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI)) telehealth can make accessing the treatment you need quick and easy.
  • Cost effective: if you’re not paying for travel, childcare and any time away from work, telehealth can be an appealing option. This is particularly true, if the concern you have is a ‘one-off’. Equally, if you don’t have health insurance, telehealth can provide access to the treatment you need, at a cost that may be more affordable to you.
  • You can stay comfortable at home: this is especially useful if you’re in pain, have mobility issues, or anxiety when it comes to leaving home.
  • Personal choice: for most people, the quality of care they receive from healthcare providers can vary. This can lead to the development of negative associations with the idea of going to see a doctor. Telehealth may help you to feel more in control here around choosing the type of care you would like.
  • Less embarrassing: sometimes, you may have a medical condition or concern you feel embarrassed to talk about. Choosing telehealth may feel more comfortable for you in these situations as opposed to seeking care from a doctor in person.
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  • No physical exam: lots of clinical concerns require your doctor to examine you in person. For example, if you have abdominal pain, a healthcare professional will need to feel where in your abdomen the root of your pain is. They will ask questions in the moment to see if any particular pressure brings on your pain. More than this, if you think you need a pelvic exam, a lump checking out, or your heart rhythm heard, a virtual appointment cannot offer this and going to see a doctor can be crucial in diagnosing and treating your concern.
  • Tests: if you know you’re going to need blood tests, x-rays or scans, you will need to see a clinician in person. Tests will usually be able to be carried out at the same time as your appointment. Equally, if you have lots of different symptoms and don’t know what’s causing them, a healthcare provider may want to carry out tests to investigate what could be going on.
  • Trust: some people feel it’s harder to form a good connection virtually compared to in person. If the relationship with your practitioner is important to you, there’s no substitute for an in person appointment.
  • Access: telehealth appointments require the use of a device like a smartphone, laptop or desktop computer and a good Wi-Fi connection and not everyone has access to this.
  • Privacy: some people don’t like the idea of entering their data onto an online platform. As with all things digital, there’s a small element of risk when it comes to privacy and data in an online setting. You don’t get much more confidential than a conversation in a doctor’s room. All telehealth systems take privacy and confidentiality very seriously, but nothing is 100% free of risk, so it’s worth bearing that one in mind!
  • Insurance policies: your insurance policy may or may not cover virtual appointments so check yours before making any firm plans. It’s likely that any telehealth prescribing service will have to be paid for out of pocket.

With these points in mind, we are able to see why many women may opt for a virtual appointment and maybe even skip face to face consults entirely. We are more informed than ever when it comes to making decisions about our health and it can often feel like we already know what’s best for us, before we actually talk to a doctor.

Despite this, it’s really important to remember that when it comes to your hormones, speaking to a clinician is essential. While hormonal treatments are, in most instances, very safe to use and offer multiple benefits for different reasons, every person has a unique health profile. A doctor needs to be aware of this and take it into consideration when making recommendations about what treatments are right for you.

For example, a form of birth control with estrogen in it may seem like a great option if you’re struggling with your skin, but if you get migraine headaches with aura, it’s a definite no no! Equally, with over a dozen different types of birth control on the market, there’s tons of options available to explore and it could be worth attending an in-person appointment to chat through what the best choice is for you.

Many women will need to see a doctor at different points in their lives for intimate reasons. In perimenopause and menopause for example, you may experience changes to your vulva and vagina and require treatment for this. While telehealth can be OK if you know your symptoms are because of low estrogen, for many women, this isn’t clear at first and an examination is important.

The final factor to consider, is the fact that many women’s health platforms offer telehealth and treatment in one space. This is particularly the case in menopausal care and treatment. While some of these spaces are reputable and prescribe to patients safely, others have a low number of consulting physicians compared to the number of patients using their services, and this raises serious questions when thinking about clinical care and attention to detail. Also, it’s not always clear where and how hormonal treatments are created by certain companies. In instances where a website is selling their own treatment, pay attention to the details. Clinicians have been concerned about certain types of compounded hormone therapy. Although it may sound like treatments are bespoke and made for you, they are actually often less regulated and not as safe as other FDA approved and widely prescribed options.

Our advice? Always read the small print.


So, when it comes to face-to-face consultations, visits in person are popular for a reason. They can be great if:

  • It’s your first time seeing the doctor and you want to build a new relationship with them
  • You need a thorough eyes on or hands on examination to determine next steps
  • You need additional tests or scans
  • Your health concern is complex and requires greater clinical insight
  • You place value on real-life in person connection
  • You don’t have the necessary tech to do telehealth appointments or have concerns about privacy and data protection.

Hormonally’s advice would be, if you find a good doctor that you trust, that listens to you, takes your opinions on board and involves you in the decision making process, hold on to them! See them by whatever means suits you and that healthcare professional best – be it in person or over a digital platform.

Follow up visits after a face-to-face appointment, prescription refills, monitoring of long-term conditions, therapy, and non-complex exams that are easy to carry out on a screen are usually OK to undergo via a telehealth platform. If you’re looking for a new doctor however, or your health concern is complex, it’s worth going in person to get a good feel for that healthcare provider and their clinic, at least at first. After an initial appointment you can always switch to virtual if you’re comfortable and that’s better for you.

When it comes to starting a new long term hormonal treatment, you should always speak to a clinician first. While it can be tempting to bypass an appointment and get straight onto the meds you want, you are a complex individual with a specific medical history that needs to be taken into account. So, do your homework, figure out what you think is right for you, but always ensure you talk to a doctor before starting any new type of treatment.