Sexually Active? Here's What You Should Know About Treatment-Resistant STDs
Every year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs), and in most cases, their infections can be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics. But in recent years, research has shown some infections aren’t responding as well to traditional treatments, a concerning development for doctors and for anyone who’s sexually active.
So far, resistance has been noted in three specific STDs — gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, with gonorrhea having the greatest resistance by far. That doesn’t necessarily mean treatment isn’t working right now — but it does mean there’s an increasing risk that these infections won’t respond well to treatment in the near future.
With locations in Germantown, Maryland, and Alexandria and Woodbridge, Virginia, Medical Access offers confidential testing and treatment for all types of STDs, including those developing resistance. If you’re sexually active, here’s what they want you to know about this alarming trend that’s challenging STD treatment.
Treatment-resistance: What it means
Antibiotics are the go-to treatment for most bacterial infections. These medications work by interfering with the way bacteria replicate and function, either destroying the bacteria or making it harder for bacteria to thrive and multiply.
Some antibiotics work better with specific germs than with others. That’s why today, there are many different types of antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment for STDs may involve one or more antibiotic, and some STDs are vulnerable to more than one therapy.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria stop responding to the effects of a specific antibiotic or group of antibiotics. This happens when bacteria evolve or adapt over time, either learning ways to fight the effects of the antibiotic or changing bacterial structure so the antibiotics simply won’t work.
Resistance and STDs
Every year, nearly 3 million antibiotic-resistant infections happen in the United States. That includes cases of antibiotic-resistant STDs. Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is especially concerning, because there is only one therapy available, which means if you develop resistance, there are no known options to effectively and dependably eradicate the infection.
Chlamydia and syphilis are also developing resistance, but these infections have more than one therapeutic option. If a person develops resistance, other options can be used — although there is always the risk of resistance developing for these therapies, as well.
Regular testing is critical
If you’re sexually active, STD testing plays an important role in helping you stay healthy. By testing for STDs on a routine basis, infections can be identified early, so treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Early treatment can mean a shorter duration of antibiotics, and it could also mean the infection is more vulnerable to their effects. Of course, testing also helps prevent you from infecting a partner, limiting the spread of disease. The CDC offers testing guidelines on its website, so you can get tested as often as recommended.
Although routine testing is essential for identifying infections in their earliest and most treatable stages, it’s also important to do all you can to prevent infection in the first place, especially as treatment resistance grows. Abstinence is obviously the most effective method of prevention, but it isn’t always practical.
On its website, the Mayo Clinic offers a brief overview of ways to help prevent STDs, so you can play a proactive role in staying healthy. The same page reviews some of the common risk factors that make infection more likely. Knowing your own risk factors is important for helping you take steps to avoid becoming infected.
Learn more about STD testing and treatment
Our team conducts STD testing using the most advanced methods for accurate results you can depend on. We also offer STD treatment to help you stay healthy. To learn more about STD testing, treatment, and prevention, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Medical Access today.