What antibiotics are used for STD treatment?

Most of the bacterial STDs are easily curable with antibiotics. It is important to use the right one for each bacteria

What antibiotics are used for STD treatment?
Viktor Simunović, Dr.med.
Dr.med. Viktor Simunović
15 February 2024.

STDs can be divided into three types: viral, bacterial, and parasitic. While viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, bacterial and some parasitic can.

The good thing about modern healthcare is that telehealth apps allow you to get penicillin and other antibiotics online. You just need to book an online doctor consultation and privately talk with our medical expert about your condition.

There are four STDs caused by bacteria and one caused by parasites. Each of them requires unique antibiotic therapy to be cured.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is treated with ceftriaxone. Some people are allergic to it. In that case, the patient can use a combination of gentamicin and azithromycin.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is treated with azithromycin or doxycycline.

Syphilis

Syphilis is treated with penicillin G. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, other antibiotics like doxycycline, ceftriaxone, tetracycline, or amoxicillin can be used.

Chancroid

Chancroid is less known but very contagious STD. Luckily, it is easily treated with azithromycin, ceftriaxone, or ciprofloxacin.

Trichomoniasis

Trich is a parasitic STD. It is treated with metronidazole or tinidazole antibiotic.

The effectiveness of antibiotics in STD treatment

The current success rate of treating uncomplicated gonorrhea is 95-99% with the recommended dual therapy of ceftriaxone and azithromycin. For chlamydia, treatment with azithromycin and doxycycline is over 95% successful. Early-stage syphilis has a cure rate of nearly 100% if treated with penicillin.

Trichomoniasis is a little more resistant to antibiotic treatment, with a success rate of 90%.

Can you get antibiotics for STDs over the counter?

No. Antibiotics for STDs cannot be bought over the counter. There are a few reasons for that.

  1. Specificity: Different antibiotics are used to treat different infections. A healthcare provider needs to determine which STD you have to prescribe the correct medication.
  2. Resistance: Overusing and misusing antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, making the drugs less effective. By restricting access to prescription-only, healthcare providers can ensure antibiotics are used appropriately.
  3. Side effects: Antibiotics can have side effects and may interact with other medications. A healthcare provider can help manage these potential issues.
  4. Follow-up care: Some STDs require follow-up testing to ensure the infection has been completely cleared. This is another reason why a healthcare provider's involvement is necessary.

Taking antibiotics to prevent STDs

The CDC recommends taking a single 200 milligram (mg) dose of the antibiotic doxycycline within 24 to 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Studies have shown that doxycycline, taken shortly after sex, might reduce the risk of bacterial STDs.

Will antibiotics affect STD tests?

Antibiotics can potentially affect the results of an STD test, depending on the type of test and the specific STD. They can kill bacteria causing the infection, which might make it undetectable in some tests. However, this doesn't mean the infection is completely cured, especially if antibiotics were not taken as a full course or weren't the right ones for that specific STD.

It is recommended to wait for four weeks after taking antibiotics before doing any testing for STDs.

The future of using antibiotics in STD treatment

Antibiotics have long been used as a primary method of treating sexually transmitted diseases. However, the future of using antibiotics in STD treatment is facing significant challenges.

One of the biggest concerns in the medical field is antibiotic resistance. Several strains of STDs, such as gonorrhea, have already developed resistance to a range of antibiotics, and others are following suit.

The future might see a shift from antibiotic treatment to prevention through vaccines. For instance, a vaccine for HPV is already available. Others, like the one for HIV, are in various stages of development. Additionally, researchers are exploring alternatives to antibiotics, such as bacteriophage therapy and antimicrobial peptides.

Online STD treatments have already revolutionized the way we approach sexual health. This eliminates the need for uncomfortable face-to-face consultations and significantly reduces waiting time. Online medical platforms offer confidential and discreet services, ensuring patient privacy.

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