Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
It’s STD Awareness Month!
Today’s myth: ‘STDs go away on their own’ and why that’s so false!
We’re implementing The STI Project’s month-long myth busting series: So True, So False! Yeah, we think we’re as cool as E! Promoting awareness, education, and acceptance doesn’t always have to be super-serious.
Really, though, these myths often perpetuate big problems, because they keep people from getting tested, talking to partners, practicing safer-sex, and all around being conscientious about their sexual health. So, this is kinda serious stuff too!
For our ‘So True, So False’ series, we’re doing the research and debunking some of the common myths we hear all of the time about STDs, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
STDs Go Away on Their Own
Well, depending on the type of STD we’re talking about, some STDs/STIs do kind of go away on their own, but in general, most do not. So, without knowing which STDs your body is able to clear and/or which STD you have, thinking that all STIs are going to go away naturally could get you in a heap of trouble.
To understand this, we have to look at specific types of STDs. There are three different categories of STDs: bacterial, viral, and parasitic.
- Bacterial STDs do not go away on their own.
- Viral STDs are either life-long or longer-term – the ones that are longer-term can be cleared by your body’s immune system over time.
- Parasitic STDs do not go away on their own.
Bacterial STIs are curable (with a prescription).
Bacterial STDs require an antibiotic.
Commonly, people will experience symptoms like discharge, itching, or redness upon first contracting a bacterial STD, and then those symptoms will go away for a period of time. This is when people think their STD – or whatever was causing their symptoms – has gone away too.
Unfortunately, even though the symptoms may have dissipated, if they are the result of a bacterial STD, the STD is still there, is still transmittable to others, can potentially cause long-term and irreversible damage, and must be treated for it to go away.
The good news about bacterial STIs is they are curable; so, once someone’s been treated, they will no longer have the infection.
Viral STIs – Half and Half
Viral STDs are tricky. Some are life-long and incurable, others our bodies are able to clear over a period of time – at minimum 6 months, but usually a number of years.
All viral STIs are manageable – there are treatment options geared toward reducing the duration, severity, and long-term impact of viral STDs’ symptoms and their effects on the body.
Parasitic STDs also do not go away on their own. They are sometimes curable with over-the-counter medications, but can all be treated with prescriptions from a medical professional.
It’s important to note, even though there are some over-the-counter medications designed to treat parasitic STIs, you must see a health practitioner to insure you’re treating the right condition – using the wrong kind of treatment could make the symptoms worse or cause problematic side-effects.
Rather than trying to remember which STIs might clear on their own over time, it’s much easier to remember that most do not. If you contract an STD, experience symptoms, and your symptoms go away, the STD still needs to be treated.
All STIs require the care and treatment of a medical professional, because STIs (in large part) do not go away on their own.
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Have you heard this before? How did you learn about this myth and what was your opinion before reading this post? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!