Antibiotics for STDs: Do They Work?

Discover how taking antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can treat various infections to protect your overall health. Not that long ago, many of the now curable STDs wreaked havoc in the lives of patients who contracted them. The advent of antibiotics for STDs transformed these sometimes life-threatening bacterial infections into forgettable events.

At Rapid STD Testing, we often encounter curable infections that patients have neglected for far too long. You can prevent the suffering associated with advanced symptoms by taking antibiotics before your disease progresses. Find out more about antibiotic treatment for specific types of STDs below.

What Are Antibiotics and Where Are They Used?

Antibiotics are a range of potent medicines that treat a variety of diseases. Their primary purpose involves eliminating disease-causing bacteria. 

Antibiotics fit into two categories based on their efficacy and purpose. Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill many different groups of bacteria, and doctors may prescribe them for STDs like chlamydia or respiratory infections like influenza. Narrow-spectrum antibiotics attack specific types of bacteria. For instance, doctors recommend penicillin specifically for syphilis.

Keep in mind that the human body also contains helpful bacteria that assist with vital biological processes. E. coli, for example, serves as a good kind of bacteria that aids digestion. Unfortunately, antibiotics sometimes destroy some of the natural flora in our intestines. To prevent discomfort and other symptoms, doctors may prescribe a probiotic to offset the destruction of healthy bacteria. 

How Do They Work?

When you experience a bacterial infection, your body can absorb antibiotics when:

  • Administering the medication via injection
  • Taking pills or capsules orally
  • Applying balm or ointment to affected areas of the skin

Your healthcare provider may choose one or more of the above methods of treatment based on the type of bacteria and the nature of the infection.

Do antibiotics make STDs go away? Yes. Once administered, antibiotic medication works by:

  • Killing the bacteria causing the infection
  • Slowing down or stopping bacterial reproduction and growth

When Are They Used?

Antibiotics work only in cases where infections result from the presence of bacteria. For instance, as an infection caused by viruses, the common flu does not respond to antibiotics.

Antibiotics represent the primary solution to most illnesses caused by bacteria. Some of the most common ailments that antibiotics can cure include:

  • Skin infections caused by folliculitis
  • Bacterial infections in the bladder or kidneys
  • Respiratory infections like pneumonia or whooping cough
  • Bacterial inflammations caused by some types of meningitis
  • STDs like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia
  • Bowel infections like Clostridioides difficile

Do Antibiotics Work for STD Infections?

Antibiotics can cure bacterial STDs if patients receive early treatment. However, antibiotics cannot cure viral STDs. In most cases, antiviral medications can manage symptoms. 

What are curable STDs? Diseases cured with antibiotics include: 

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

Health officials have expressed concern regarding the rising resistance of STDs to antibiotics. Some patients discontinue their medication upon the elimination of symptoms. The non-completion of an antibiotic course may cause the remaining bacteria to develop resistance against any future doses. 

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when antibiotic treatments prove ineffective at controlling or killing bacteria. The phenomenon also poses a significant danger to the global health system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a growing number of gonorrhea cases in the U.S. that demonstrate resistance to antibiotics. The agency considers the STD a so-called “urgent threat” because it displays the potential to become more widespread.

Wrong Antibiotic Prescription for Suspected STDs

Will any antibiotic work for STDs? Unfortunately, prescribing the wrong antibiotics for STDs may result in serious side effects, including antibiotic resistance. A few years ago, researchers from Detroit’s Ascension St. John Hospital & Medical Center conducted a study regarding the prevalence of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.  

The study examined the records of 1,103 STD patients treated with antibiotics. However, out of the 40% treated for gonorrhea or chlamydia, 77% didn’t suffer from either disease. 

Because STD tests take time, some patients who seek treatment may receive antibiotic prescriptions before lab technicians confirm their diagnoses. Fortunately, patients can take a rapid STD test for fast, accurate results that help physicians prescribe the correct medications.

Best Antibiotics for STDs

Most bacterial STDs respond well to antibiotics, and doctors frequently prescribe different antibiotic medications based on the type of bacteria. On the other hand, treatments for viral STDs, like genital herpes and HIV/AIDS, require antiviral drugs rather than antibiotics. 

You may come across various home remedies or natural antibiotics for STDs. However, such treatments may prove ineffective in addressing underlying health issues. Proper antibiotic medications include an injection, tablet course, or topical ointment. 

Gain more insight about the most common antibiotics for an STD infection below.


Men and women with chlamydia sometimes suffer pain. Although the disease often shows no signs of its presence, common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge
  • Bleeding or discharge from the rectum
  • Pain in the lower back, stomach, pelvis, and genitals
  • Painful intercourse and urination
  • Fever, sore throat, and nausea
  • Eye inflammation

The STD proves more severe in women because it can induce pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with PID remain at high risk of experiencing ectopic pregnancy or infertility. 


Azithromycin treats chlamydia by controlling the spread of the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Adults and adolescents can take a single oral dose of one gram to cure genital chlamydia. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that azithromycin demonstrates an efficacy rate of 97% in treating the STD.

Erythromycin, Ofloxacin, and Tetracycline

According to NCBI, alternative medication for genital chlamydia includes:

  • 500mg dose of erythromycin twice daily for seven days
  • 200 to 400mg dose of ofloxacin twice a day for seven days
  • Seven-day course of 500mg of tetracycline four times a day


Healthcare providers prescribe a seven-day course of 100mg of doxycycline twice a day for genital chlamydia. They also recommend the same medication for anorectal chlamydial infections. 


The Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium thrives near the genitals, eyes, throat, and female reproductive tract. Untreated gonorrhea can result in PID or infertility. Men and women with gonorrhea may experience:

  • Frequent urination
  • Abnormal penile and vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding or discharge from the rectum
  • Itchy sensations in and around the anus
  • Painful bowel movements

Symptoms of gonorrhea often stay hidden within sexual partners. When they do appear, they present in the mouth or throat. Patients may also experience a fever.  

Antibiotics for the Treatment of Gonorrhea

Doctors recommend a single dose of azithromycin or a seven-day doxycycline course. Patients who exhibit symptoms of both gonorrhea and chlamydia may also receive a ceftriaxone injection.  

Other medications prescribed in the treatment of gonorrhea may include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Cefixime
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
  • Gemifloxacin

Health experts advise patients to avoid engaging in intercourse for seven to ten days. Abstinence after treatment reduces the risk of a relapse.


This common bacterial infection begins as a painless sore that may go undetected. Treponema pallidum occurs in four stages:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Latent
  • Tertiary

Syphilis remains highly infectious in its primary and secondary stages. Taking a blood test or a cerebrospinal fluid test can determine the presence of a syphilis infection. In its third, hidden stage, the disease stays active without noticeable symptoms. Tertiary syphilis can prove fatal or produce irreversible, adverse health outcomes such as:

  • Loss of sight, hearing, or memory
  • Mental illnesses
  • Brain or spinal cord infections
  • Neurological complications
  • Heart disease
  • Bone and soft tissue destruction

Recommended Antibiotics for Syphilis

Health experts recommend penicillin as the standard treatment for syphilis. A single penicillin G injection proves effective at treating primary and secondary syphilis. Patients with latent or tertiary syphilis may require additional doses. 

Patients allergic to penicillin can receive alternative antibiotic treatments, including:

  • Azithromycin
  • Doxycycline
  • Tetracycline
  • Ceftriaxone

Mycoplasma Genitalium

A Mycoplasma genitalium infection causes urethritis in many patients. In women, the disease leads to PID, cervicitis, and infertility. Symptoms of an M. genitalium infection include:

  • Penile and vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensations or pain during urination
  • Pain during penetrative sex
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Abdominal pain

Antibiotic Treatment for M. Genitalium

Clinical treatment of M. genitalium infection can prove challenging. Health experts might recommend azithromycin as the first treatment method. Depending on the infection’s persistence, doctors may administer other medications, including:

  • Doxycycline
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Pristinamycin
  • Josamycin


Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite, causes trichomoniasis through any form of sexual contact. Also called trich, this disease affects older women more often than younger women and men. Trichomoniasis remains widespread without any visible symptoms in most patients. 

Standard methods of detection include microscopic examination of urine or genital fluid samples. Symptoms of this STD include:

  • Foul-smelling discharges
  • Cervical and vulvar lesions 
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during urination 
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Genital itching 
  • Bleeding after intercourse

Preferred Antibiotic Treatment for Trichomoniasis 

Health providers recommend oral administration of metronidazole or tinidazole pills in most cases of trich. Doctors may prescribe a sizable single dose or multiple doses in small quantities. They also suggest taking the drug on a full stomach to avoid bowel irritation. 

Alternative treatments include intravaginal administration of boric acid. The medication proves lethal to the STD by destroying live parasites and suppressing their reproduction.  

What Is the Strongest Antibiotic for STDs?

The correct antibiotic medication can cure most bacterial STDs if detected early enough. But, what is the strongest antibiotic for STDs? Medical science attempts to assess the strength of a chosen antibiotic against the vulnerabilities of a particular bacteria.

In general, doctors may prescribe the following as the best antibiotics for STDs commonly faced by patients.  

Azithromycin and Doxycycline

Both of these antibiotics remain widely used for chlamydia. Reports by the CDC reveal that doxycycline shows higher success rates in cases of rectal infection. Alternatives like erythromycin may replace or supplement a primary antibiotic dose, if necessary.

Ceftriaxone, Ciprofloxacin, and Cefixime

Doctors prescribe these medications in single doses for uncomplicated gonorrhea. For patients allergic to ceftriaxone, the doctor may combine azithromycin and gemifloxacin. 

Healthcare providers often recommend more than one type of antibiotic if patients exhibit symptoms of both gonorrhea and chlamydia. In such cases, the doctor may prescribe ceftriaxone, along with azithromycin or doxycycline.

Penicillin G Benzathine

Penicillin G benzathine serves as the preferred antibiotic for early-stage syphilis. This medication remains effective for conditions ranging from the primary stage to the early latent stage of syphilis. In many cases, it can cure syphilis by stopping the progression of the disease. However, it may not resolve any of the tissue damage already suffered.

The success of antibiotics for STDs depends on identifying the type of infection. Early detection dramatically increases the chances of cure and recovery. Failure to act on the signs and symptoms of STDs remains both ill-advised and dangerous.

A timely, accurate diagnosis proves crucial in choosing an antibiotic course. Today, same-day STD testing can deliver almost instant results. Alternatively, a 10-panel STD test can discover asymptomatic infections, offering a more comprehensive scan. 

Antibiotic-Resistant STDs

Growing antibiotic resistance in bacteria complicates the treatment of a few common STDs. Gonorrhea leads the way with some of the most significant antibiotic-resistant infections. However, chlamydia and syphilis are distinct in showing some indications of resistance.

We discuss antibiotic resistance and what we can do about it below.

How Does an STD Become Resistant to Antibiotics?

Doctors have used antibiotics to cure bacterial STDs for almost a century. During that time, certain strains of bacteria have adapted to resist antibiotics. Some early antibiotic formulations no longer cure the diseases they once did. Antibiotic-resistant STDs usually adapt in one of two ways to make treatment more difficult. They either:

 1.  Arm themselves with new weapons to destroy the antibiotics

 2. Disguise themselves to evade detection by the antibiotics

The most insidious STDs eliminate antibiotics with powerful enzymes, hide by altering their shapes, or both. As the bacteria adapt to treatments, medicine developers must also adapt to meet new threats.

How Common Is Antibiotic Resistance?

Patients who receive STD diagnoses should not fret about antibiotic resistance because such cases remain relatively rare. According to the CDC, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea only crops up in less than one out of 100 infections.

Medical experts worry about antibiotic resistance in chlamydia due to its frequent transmission, which creates more opportunities for new adaptations.  

What Can We Do to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant STDs?

The best way to combat antibiotic-resistant STDs involves not putting yourself in a position to contract or transmit one. However, because many patients find it impractical to abstain from sex, we must enact other measures to stop the advance of antibiotic resistance. We explore some of our options below.


Aside from abstinence, prophylactics represent the best way to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant STDs. Some of the most common types of prophylactics include:

  • Condoms
  • Dental dams
  • Female condoms
  • Latex or nitrile gloves


Catching new STD cases as early as possible can help stem the spread of resistant STDs. Patients should always take an STD test before and after sex with a new partner. 


Most bacterial STDs respond well to antibiotics. However, even after successful treatment, you can still catch the same bacterial disease multiple times.

Novel Antibiotics

The medical establishment finds itself scrambling to develop more powerful antibiotics to cure the most stubborn infections. The fear remains that the law of diminishing returns will impact the efficacy of future antibiotics.


Rapid testing to determine the specific strain of bacteria can help doctors select the antibiotic most likely to eliminate an STD. In some cases, assumedly obsolete antibiotics have proven more effective than the latest options.

Rapid STD Testing | Get Checked. Get Meds. Get Healthy.

Put your mind at ease by getting checked up at Rapid STD Testing. Call (866) 872-1888 to schedule your health screening and see whether you need antibiotics for STDs.