Can an STD Come Back After STD Treatment?

For most people, getting an STD is an embarrassing incident that they feel would be best forgotten. Unfortunately, some STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can come back even after STD treatment. This recurrence can be due to several factors. 

Knowing the conditions under which STDs can come back after treatment can help you avoid common mistakes and ensure that you’re finally cured for good.

Why Does Repeat Infection Happen Even After Treatment?

Many STDs result from a bacterial infection that requires a course of antibiotics to treat. However, the STD can come back if you don’t get rid of all the bugs (i.e., bacteria) causing the disease or if you get a repeat infection from a new sexual partner.

Taking the Incorrect Medication

Some overworked STD clinics treat general symptoms instead of focusing on a specific disease. Most bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, so it’s easy to prescribe a broad-spectrum treatment and hope for the best (learn more about antibiotics for STDs). 

Unfortunately, not all STDs stem from the same type of infection, and some may even be viral, protozoan, or fungal infections. Identifying an STD by taking a 10-panel STD test is essential in getting the correct treatment for chlamydia or other STDs.

Improper Medication Intake

It’s tempting to stop taking your chlamydia medication once you’ve stopped experiencing symptoms, but this will almost certainly lead to a recurring infection with chlamydia. The main reason is that while the antibiotics have killed enough of the bacteria to stop producing symptoms, they need more time to eliminate every organism. Leaving even one chlamydia bacterium behind can cause it to reproduce and result in a repeat infection. 

Another huge problem that not completing your course of antibiotics can cause is that it encourages antibiotic resistance. If you stop a course early, you’ve eliminated all susceptible bacteria while leaving the tougher, more resistant, ones alive. These will reproduce and be much more resistant to common antibiotics, resulting in longer and harsher treatments. 

An Untreated Partner

If you have a stable sexual partner, you both need treatment for your STD, and you both need to wait until you’ve completed the treatment before having unprotected sexual activity. Failing to do so may result in your passing the bug back and forth every time you have sex, leading to a prolonged treatment cycle.

Exposure to Another Person With an STD

Successful treatment of an STD doesn’t result in immunity to that disease in the future. If you have unprotected sex with a new sexual partner, you risk catching the same STD again. 

The best way to avoid this scenario is to take Rapid Testing’s rapid STD test, which tests for the most common STDs and delivers results within 24 hours. Regular testing can help ensure that both you and your partner get the treatment you need without putting the other person at risk from an STD.

Known STDs That May Come Back Even After Treatment

The good news is that chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis are completely curable, even though they can come back after STD treatment. However, taking the necessary precautions, such as same-day STD testing or STD prevention pills (learn more about STD prevention pills), can ensure that you stay healthy and STD-free.


Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs in the U.S. — according to the Centers for Disease Control, over four million people had chlamydia in 2018, and around one in 20 sexually active women had the disease. 

What makes chlamydia particularly concerning is the high reinfection rate. Several studies show that up to 26% of females develop a repeat chlamydia infection within a year after STD treatment. 

A large factor in this high reinfection rate is that many chlamydia infections are asymptomatic, meaning that the person doesn’t know they have the disease and can transmit it to their sexual partners. It’s a reason why regular testing with Rapid STD Testing’s service is so important to maintaining your partner’s and your sexual health. 

Typical symptoms of chlamydia include: 

  • Abnormal discharge from penis or vagina
  • Burning sensation while peeing
  • Sores in the genital area 

Chlamydia can also infect rectal tissue during anal sex, leading to pain, discharge, and potential bleeding. 

 Untreated chlamydia infection increases the risk of developing: 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Infertility
  • Epididymitis in men 

Chlamydia can also pass through from the mother to baby during pregnancy and childbirth and even increases the risk of transmitting HIV. 

The good news is that chlamydia treatments are straightforward and effective. Depending on your circumstances, your healthcare practitioner will prescribe either a single-dose antibiotic or a seven-day course. You should abstain from sexual activity during the treatment period and complete the entire course to avoid reinfection. If your symptoms persist after the seven-day treatment, speak to your healthcare provider for further advice. 

The CDC also recommends testing three months after the STD treatment to ensure that it’s worked and you’re fully cured.


Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that often causes asymptomatic infections but can still have serious health consequences. Left untreated, gonorrhea can result in infertility, long-term pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancies. Common transmission mechanisms include anal sex, penetrative sex, and even oral sex. 

Gonorrhea treatment can become increasingly complicated due to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease. These treatments are often more expensive and take longer to complete than traditional STD treatments, and a follow-up STD test is vital to ensure that the treatment works effectively.


Syphilis can be one of the most devastating STDs. If left untreated, it can cause paralysis, hearing and vision loss, brain damage, heart damage, and changes to your mental state. Luckily, modern STD treatments effectively treat the disease, especially if caught early. 

The longer you leave the disease untreated, the higher the risk of permanent damage and the longer the treatment will take.


Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs in the United States, with over two million infections in 2018. However, only 30% of individuals with the disease develop symptoms, so regular STD testing is so important. 

Treatment for trichomoniasis involves a single-dose treatment, but new evidence shows that a multi-dose treatment lasting seven days is significantly more effective at curing the disease and preventing reinfection.

Why Is Retesting Necessary After Treatment?

Doctors tend to retest for chlamydia three months after STD treatment to prevent complications from reinfections and stop further transmission to sexual partners. These tests generally check for new infections, either from an untreated prior partner or from an untested new partner. 

Retesting isn’t the same as testing to make sure the cure worked. Doctors will only recommend test-of-cure under specific circumstances, such as persistent symptoms or lack of adherence to the treatment.

Stay Informed to Stay Safe

STDs are an ever-present danger, especially if you participate in sexual activity with multiple partners. The best way to stay safe is with regular testing, so call us at (866) 872-1888 to order our rapid tests or book an appointment with an STD testing center near you.