How STDs Are Treated

In This Article

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, is a catchall term for a number of different illnesses spread through intimate contact. STDs can be viral or bacterial in nature or may be due to another cause.

The only person who can determine the appropriate treatment if you are diagnosed with an STD is your healthcare provider. STDs are treated with prescription medication based on the type of infection. Treatment is individual and may be adjusted for any other issues that affect your overall physical health. It also allows doctors to account for problems such as antibiotic resistance.

Bacterial STD Treatment

STDs caused by bacterial infections include syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. These diseases are curable when treated with the right antibiotics. The doctor will determine the course of treatment based on local and current rates of antibiotic resistance.

Resistance can be a consequence of people failing to take their antibiotics correctly and is a growing problem for gonorrhea infections across the globe. That's why it may sometimes be necessary to be retested for gonorrhea after treatment is complete.

Viral STD Treatments

STDs caused by viruses include herpes, HPV, and HIV. These are usually treated with oral antiviral or antiretroviral medications. Most viral STDs do not have cures.

Both herpes and HIV are currently life-long infections, but that may change with new research. Hepatitis C was considered incurable until recently. Now, most cases of hepatitis C are finally able to be cured due to new medication developments.

Some viral STDs, such as HPV, aren't treated at all unless they cause symptoms. With HPV, most infections go away on their own within two years. However, symptoms such as genital warts or cervical dysplasia may need treatment. 

Treatment for Viral STDs

Learn more about the treatment plans for specific viral infections:

Other STD Treatments

STDs that are not viral or bacterial can be caused by fungi, parasites, and little 'creepy crawlies,' such as scabies. These diseases can be treated either using drugs you take by mouth or through the use of topical agents.

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are treated topically. Sexually associated yeast infections can be treated either orally or with creams. Some of these diseases will also require you to treat your household items. For example, sheets may need to be washed in particular ways or furniture vacuumed to remove parasites. 

Treatments for Other STDs

Learn more about the treatments recommended for these other kinds of STDs:

A Word From Verywell

Throughout this article, we've included links that contain treatment guidelines for various STDs. Your treatment may vary depending on other factors affecting your health.

STDs should be treated by a doctor after diagnostic tests have confirmed an infection. Do not try to treat yourself for an STD using medication you have purchased over the Internet or otherwise obtained without a prescription.

Make certain to take all medications as directed and to finish the course of treatment even after symptoms resolve. Failure to do so could lead to a resistant infection. Sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented through abstinence and practicing safer sex.

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Article Sources

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