The American Academy of Family Physicians defines telemedicine as "the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance."
Healthcare providers can advise, diagnose, and prescribe treatment to patients from great distances via the internet.
One of the major advantages of telemedicine is that it allows increased access to healthcare for people whose circumstances might prevent them from getting the care they need.
For instance, people living in rural or remote areas might not have a needed specialist within reasonable driving or public transit distance.
Some disabilities make it more difficult for people to travel to doctors' offices, and those people can benefit from receiving care through an online portal or a Skype call.
Private companies have started using the telemedicine model to connect people with medications they need, especially for conditions that are considered embarrassing or that might be difficult to talk about in a face-to-face conversation, like erectile dysfunction.
While knockoff versions of Viagra are everywhere (it's believed to be one of the mostly widely counterfeited drugs worldwide), these companies claim to employ actual licensed doctors and supply legit medications.
So what's the scoop? We explored the world of men's telehealth, and we've got the inside details on three of the biggest sites offering telemedicine specifically for men's health needs.
They've all got some similar features--you can purchase erectile dysfunction medication after filling out an online questionnaire, which will be reviewed by a doctor before you get approved. Then, the medications will be mailed straight to your door.
But if you want to know more about the differences between them and learn which one is right for you, read on.
BlueChew offers generic versions of the active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis on a monthly subscription basis.
You can get different subscription plans based on how many pills per month you anticipate needing.
That way, you can be sure that you won't run out of pills when the moment arises, without paying for more than you need or running the risk of acquiring a giant stockpile of pills that curious pets or toddlers could get into.
Plus, the pills are available in a chewable form, which gets the medication into your system more quickly than a swallowable tablet.
Pros: I think BlueChew is the easiest site to navigate, and the chewable pill is a nice touch.
Cons: Erectile dysfunction medication is BlueChew's only offering, unlike the other sites, so if you're looking for more than just a remedy for ED, you won't find it here.
Hims offers the same ED products that BlueChew does, as well as many others.
Hims is dedicated to encouraging men to take care of their health, appearance, and well-being. They have products designed to help with everything from male pattern baldness to cold sores to nervousness.
They offer a subscription service, as well as some over-the-counter products that are available without a subscription or a questionnaire, like specially formulated shampoo and conditioner to help manage premature hair loss.
They also have multivitamins that are designed for men's health--and they come in fun gummy form!
Pros: Hims offers combo packs where you can get multiple products shipped together for a reduced price. They're grouped by goal, like hair retention or anti-aging skin products.
Cons: For a site that offers so many products, they don't include as much information about their medications as I'd like.
Roman offers the widest variety of products, including those intended to help people stop smoking and reduce the size of their prostate.
They also offer more comprehensive information about the medications on their site, making it easy for you to learn more about the potential benefits and risks of any product you're considering.
Personally, I feel most comfortable with Roman because they openly offer medication information rather than promoting it endlessly and making you go off-site to find reliable information.
They also include the names, photos, and credentials of the medical staff on their team. They include university professors and a former US Surgeon General, so you can feel assured that you're in good hands.
Pros: Roman offers the best price for erectile dysfunction medication of all three sites.
Cons: The site, while comprehensive, isn't super user-friendly, and it might take you a bit to figure out how to navigate the site.
All of these products offer legitimate benefits, but don't believe everything you read.
Unlike your doctor, these and other companies benefit financially from you buying the products they recommend.
We aren't saying that they can't be trusted at all, but do independent research on the medications you're interested in before you try them.
Medical information sites like the Mayo Clinic and the FDA are thorough and reliable resources for accurate information about medications.
Ask plenty of questions, and don't take any drug until you feel assured that it's safe for you. Risk-taking isn't a good idea when your health is on the line.