When faced with the possibility of an STD, many people wonder, can STDs go away on their own? Typically, people are hopeful that STDs will clear up on their own because they want to avoid getting tested and everything that goes with it: the embarrassment of going to a clinic or your doctor, the hassle of getting a prescription or broaching the subject with your partner.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the reality is that most STDs will not clear up on their own, and many get worse the longer they go without being treated, causing increasingly more harm to your health. To go into why and how to treat different STDs, let’s first break them down into their three main categories: bacterial, parasitic and viral.
Bacterial and Parasitic STDs
Bacterial and parasitic STDs do not clear up over time and will always require prescription treatment in order to get rid of them. Bacterial STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Parasitic STDs include trich, scabies and pubic lice. All of these STDs are curable, but they require a diagnosis and doctor’s prescription in order to do so. If left untreated, these STDs can cause serious health complications, so it’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible.
If left untreated:
gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, prostate inflammation, infections of the testicles and sterility.
syphilis can cause tumors, cardiovascular problems, nerve damage, dementia and even death.
chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, chronic pelvic pain and more.
Viral STDs are the only STDs that have the potential to clear up on their own, but not all viral STDs will do so. Some viral STDs, like HIV and herpes, stay in the infected person for life. Others, like hepatitis and HPV, can go away on their own. These are the only STDs that will go away without treatment, and even then, they don’t always go away.
Some people who contract hepatitis will clear the virus from their system without any treatment. The rest will have chronic hepatitis, in which the virus will come back years later and can cause other infections of the liver, liver disease and even liver cancer.
There are more than 100 strains of HPV, and while some strains do clear up on their own a few years after contracting the virus, others do not go away. Certain strains of HPV can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancers, so early detection of the virus is crucial for any possible treatment.
As for HIV and herpes, as we mentioned above, there is no known cure for either of these STDs. However, while these STDs are incurable, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctor or seek a diagnosis or treatment as soon as possible. With both of these STDs, early detection and treatment are essential. While you won’t be prescribed medication to cure these STDs, there is treatment available to help manage symptoms and mitigate the effects of each virus. Antiviral medication for herpes can help lessen the severity and duration of outbreaks, which can not only increase comfort for the person infected with herpes, but can also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner.
Antiviral medication has been particularly crucial in the treatment and management of HIV. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, compliance with HIV medications can significantly improve the quality and length of life for those infected.
Because STDs are so often asymptomatic, it’s important to remember that the absence of symptoms does not always mean that an infection isn’t present. At the same time, if you experience symptoms related to an STD and the symptoms eventually go away, this doesn’t mean the STD has also gone away. This is still important to remember if you’re receiving STD treatment. Many people will stop taking the medication they’ve been prescribed for treatment as soon as their symptoms clear up, but it’s important to finish whatever course of medication has been prescribed by the doctor. Not finishing a course of antibiotics can prevent the infection from going away and can even contribute to more antibiotic resistant strains of the infection, making it more difficult to cure in the future.
So, can STDs go away on their own? In almost all cases, no. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting tested frequently and practicing safer sex.