Why You Should Be Concerned About Drug-Resistant STDs

Many people can live normal lives with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) since excellent treatment options exist, though some still experience treatment failure. Drug-resistant STD concerns only increase each year as we attempt to develop more medications to combat diseases.

At Rapid STD Testing, we want to help you get the same-day STD testing you need with secure, private, and fast results so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible. We believe that everyone should learn about drug-resistant STDs to prioritize their health.

What Is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotics successfully treat many different diseases and illnesses, including STDs. Usually, if you have a minor infection, your prescribed antibiotic can rid your body of the bacteria within weeks. If you have to take antibiotics too frequently or for long periods, the dangerous bacteria will learn how to survive and resist the treatment.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious concern for many different diseases, including STDs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that half of the estimated 1.6 million gonorrhea infections per year will resist one or more antibiotics.

Should We Be Alarmed?

Yes. The plague of sexually transmitted diseases is nothing new, though the increasing lack of treatment options should alarm you. Different STDs, like gonorrhea, have grown so much strength that they frequently resist not one but multiple antibiotics.

As of right now, we only have one recommended treatment for gonorrhea that the bacteria haven’t learned to combat. Many scientists assume that this treatment will soon become ineffective as well. Even if researchers can develop additional options, the cycle will likely repeat.

You must also consider the long-term effects of antibiotic resistance. Suppose you contract an STD, take an antibiotic, and fully recover. What happens if you get the STD again but the drug no longer works?

These illnesses and diseases continue adapting and overcoming treatments every day. You should regularly take a rapid STD test to avoid potential issues.

STDs and the Spread of “Superbugs”

Superbugs are diseases that resist multiple antibiotic treatments. Today, gonorrhea is one of the most common superbugs, as it begins to gain resistance to the final treatment option. So why does this happen?

Bacteria evolve the same way any other living organisms do. Think about how animals can adapt to different climates, making them stronger and more resistant to extreme temperatures or weather conditions. The bacteria that we find in certain sexually transmitted diseases can do the same thing.

Each time we introduce a new antibiotic to an infection, the stronger the bacteria become, making it even harder to treat in the future. As bacteria become resistant to each antibiotic, they gain better defense mechanisms and shed weak links.

Aside from the growing strength of superbugs, you must also consider how infectious these types of diseases are. In 2017, the CDC Division of STD Prevention found that syphilis cases doubled in only a few years.

How Do Bacteria Evolve to Be Resistant to Drugs?

Bacteria gain drug resistance by changing their entire structural makeup. As of right now, we understand that STDs, particularly gonorrhea, use one of the two following methods to evolve:

  • Change in surfaces: Antibiotics don’t kill all of the bacteria in your body because some of them are necessary to keep us alive. Instead, antibiotics target specific types of dangerous bacteria, like STDs. Bacteria can evolve against this tactic by changing their surfaces to become unrecognizable to the treatment methods.
  • Change in enzymes: Bacteria use enzymes to fight off antibiotics or other threats. If we introduce a new antibiotic to combat resistance, the bacteria will create new enzymes to fight it off. Each time we try to find a new way to kill off these diseases, they find new ways to kill off our medicines.

What Sexually Transmitted Diseases Should You Be Worried About?

Not all sexually treated diseases have antibiotic resistance concerns. For example, human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus, not bacterial, so doctors usually would never prescribe an antibiotic for treatment.

Susceptibility testing measures the level of resistance in different bacteria. This information can inform doctors on the best treatment options. Using antibiotics, you can only successfully treat very few bacterial STDs, like bacterial vaginosis, without worrying about resistance.

Currently, gonorrhea is the most drug-resistant STD and the largest concern of scientists. Aside from gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are also beginning to show antibiotic resistance signs.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can spread to other parts of your body if untreated, creating serious problems. The gonorrhea bacteria are called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or gonococci.

  • Women with gonorrhea must worry about inflammation spreading to their ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID often results in infertility. Pregnant women with gonorrhea also risk a stillbirth or newborn death.
  • Men with gonorrhea must worry about the infection spreading to their testicles. Testicular bacterial infection frequently causes sterility.
  • Everyone who lacks adequate treatment must worry about the bacteria migrating into their bloodstream or joints, which can be fatal. Gonorrhea might also increase your chances of getting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Currently, the only way to treat gonorrhea is by combining two different strong antibiotics called azithromycin and ceftriaxone. The bacteria may resist this treatment soon.

You should learn more about gonorrhea symptoms to know what you should keep an eye on. Staying ahead of treatment can help you prevent serious long-term problems like infertility. Test yourself regularly by visiting a local clinic or ordering a test online from Rapid STD Testing.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that creates non-painful sores around the genital region. When someone else’s skin or mucus comes in contact with these sores, the bacteria spread. Syphilis appears in three stages:

  • Stage One: Painless sores around the genital region and mouth form.
  • Stage Two: The sores heal, but then a rash appears. Swollen lymph glands and fevers may accompany the rash symptoms.
  • Stage Three: The rash disappears for as long as many years before the infection spreads to more critical areas of the body, like your eyes, heart, brain, and nervous system. This stage can lead to blindness, paralysis, dementia, numbness, and death.

Penicillin is the main treatment for syphilis, though this antibiotic is harder to obtain in the United States due to shortages. You may also use azithromycin, though the bacteria might resist this antibiotic.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an incredibly common STD that affects men and women, though young women are the most common sufferers. In 2020, the CDC found that over 60% of people with chlamydia were between 15 and 24 years old.

What makes chlamydia so common is that many people can have the infection without any symptoms, causing them to spread it to partners who might experience adverse effects. When untreated, chlamydia can cause PID and sterility.

The beginning symptoms of chlamydia include genital discharge and pain. Treatment options include erythromycin, doxycycline, azithromycin, and amoxicillin. By adhering to treatment guidelines, you can fully recover from the disease without long-term consequences.

As of right now, no drug-resistant chlamydia strains exist, though other diseases have gained resistance to the main treatments above. For example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is resistant to amoxicillin, penicillin, and other antibiotics, which could happen with chlamydia in the future.

How Common Are Drug-Resistant STDs?

The CDC believes that out of all reported gonorrhea cases, less than 1% face antibiotic resistance. A percentage like this might sound small, though when considering the millions that face this STD, even 0.01% would mean thousands of people.

You must also remember that the resistance rates for cheaper and older medications are even higher. The more new antibiotics we develop, the more expensive and unattainable they may become.

Aside from just STDs, the CDC gathered reports of over two million people who contracted some sort of infection that resisted antibiotic treatments just in the United States alone.

Can Antibiotic-Resistant Infectious Diseases Be Treated?

You can still receive treatment for all three STDs mentioned above. For syphilis, you can receive penicillin, though sometimes you might struggle to find it. You could also use azithromycin and risk the potential resistance.

You can treat chlamydia with a few different antibiotic options. As of right now, all of these medications work fine, though the bacteria might resist them soon.

If you have gonorrhea, you only have one potential treatment option that is beginning to fail. If your particular strain resists this treatment, you may not recover unless researchers can develop a new antibiotic option to combat it.

What Should You Do If You Contract an Untreatable STD?

The word “untreatable” is a bit of an exaggeration, as you always have options. When it comes to syphilis or chlamydia, you can utilize one of the available antibiotic treatment options.

If you contract gonorrhea, your doctor will prescribe either azithromycin, ceftriaxone, or both. You must request that you take both of these medications together, as this is the most powerful method.

After receiving the prescription, you should take each pill at the appropriate time. Antibiotics require an intense regimen of multiple capsules per day, following your meal schedule. The antibiotic course typically takes a couple of weeks, and you will wean down on pills per day throughout the treatment period.

After completing your antibiotics, you should see your doctor again and let them know if you still have any symptoms. They might recommend that you go through another round of antibiotics if the first round didn’t work well enough. While infected, you must practice safety precautions and inform all sexual partners of your condition so they can receive treatment as well.

How Can We Prevent STDs From Becoming Antibiotic-Resistant?

You can prevent STD antibiotic resistance by retesting for an infection at a local clinic or by ordering online with Rapid STD Testing.

If you had chlamydia, took the antibiotic, and felt better, the disease might still return. If the bacteria do come back, it may resist the treatment on your second round.

By regularly retesting yourself after a chlamydia diagnosis, you can stay ahead of treatments and reduce the risk of spreading it to other people, which only heightens antibiotic resistance.

Get Tested Early

One of the best ways to reduce the overwhelming development of antibiotic resistance is by testing yourself regularly for STDs. Many STDs do not present symptoms but can still contaminate your sexual partners.

With regular STD testing, you can eradicate your infection and prevent the spread. Not only will you improve your chances of a total cure, but you can reduce the entire societal issue. The more people who need antibiotics for an STD, the more the bacteria will learn to adapt, evolve, and resist these treatments.

You should always conduct regular STD testing, even if you stay with the same sexual partner. Try a convenient online option, like Rapid STD Testing. You can also learn more about using antibiotics for STDs to spread awareness and stay educated on treatment options.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Rather than worrying about curing an STD, be sure to focus on how you can prevent contracting one. Use the following preventative methods:

  • Always use condoms correctly during sexual activities.
  • Reduce your number of sexual partners.
  • Discuss STDs and prevention methods with each partner before having sex.
  • Ensure that you and your partner both receive regular STD tests.
  • Stay up-to-date on vaccines for HPV and hepatitis B.

Do Your Part to Reduce Antibiotic Resistance by Getting Tested

You can do your part to reduce drug-resistant STD concerns by receiving regular STD screenings. Rapid STD Testing provides a 10-panel STD test with private, easy-to-understand, and fast results.

To stay safe, informed, and prepared, you can order one for yourself and one for your partner or visit a local STD testing center.

Order online today or call our Rapid STD Testing team at (866) 872-1888 with any questions!