Sexually active people are typically at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are many types of STDs, ranging from mildly uncomfortable to extremely detrimental to one’s health. This is why seeing a doctor for any unusual condition in the genital areas is essential. Many drugs can be prescribed for STDs, including Metronidazole. If you or your doctor are considering metronidazole for STD, continue reading to learn more below.
Understanding the Basics of Metronidazole and STDs
Metronidazole is an antibiotic; more specifically, it belongs to a class of drugs known as nitroimidazole antimicrobials. It attacks infections caused by bacteria, not viral infections. This drug can also help treat protozoal infections caused by parasites such as trichomonas vaginalis.
Metronidazole isn’t just used for STDs. Bacterial and parasitic infections of the skin, blood, heart, bone, stomach, liver, joints, nervous system, respiratory tract, and many other areas of the body can be treated with this medicine.
When it comes to STDs, it is most commonly used to treat trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis.
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How Metronidazole Works to Treat STDs
Bacterial infections work by growing and multiplying, spreading over the affected area. Metronidazole effectively disrupts their DNA. This makes it more challenging, or impossible, for the bacteria to continue its growth.
Not only does this eventually kill off the bacteria completely, but it also stops symptoms from worsening.
As with most antibiotics, taking this as long as your doctor has prescribed is essential. Though you might not notice any more symptoms, some bacteria could still be left behind.
Prematurely stopping treatment means you increase the risk factors of the infection coming back.
Or worse, you could develop antibiotic-resistant bacteria and need a harsher treatment.
Common STDs Treated with Metronidazole
Metronidazole can treat some STDs. While metronidazole treats most bacterial infections, it might not be appropriate for everyone.
Some people can react negatively to the medication, affecting other medications’ effectiveness.
Metronidazole is also ineffective against viral STDs like genital herpes or HIV, so it is vital to get a correct diagnosis before deciding on any medical drug use.
Some of the common STDs treated by metronidazole include:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Gonorrhea (along with other medications)
- Chlamydia (along with other medicines)
Benefits and Risks of Using Metronidazole for STD Treatment
As with all medications, metronidazole comes with its benefits and risks. As one of the most common treatments for bacterial infections, it is usually well tolerated by individuals and clears up infections quickly. Metronidazole for STDs can also be taken either orally or topically.
Some of the risks come from possible allergic reactions to the drug. If you experience hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing when taking this medication, consult a doctor immediately.
If you are allergic to secnidazole or tinidazole, you are most likely allergic to metronidazole.
Like most medications, metronidazole can interact with other medicines you are taking. If your doctor recommends metronidazole, list all other drugs you are on to prevent this from being a problem.
Other risks when taking metronidazole involve the side effects of this medication. It is important to note that not everyone will have these side effects, but they can get severe for some.
Call a doctor if you are taking metronidazole and experiencing:
- New or worsening symptoms of your infection
- Painful or difficult urination
- Becoming light-headed
- Vaginal itching and discharge
- Blisters in the mouth, red swollen gums, or trouble swallowing
The longer you take metronidazole, the more risk there is for neurological side effects, including:
- Numbness, tingling, or an intense sensation in the hands or feet
- Vision problems, pain behind your eyes, or seeing flashes of light
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with speech or coordination
- Fever, stiff neck, and increased sensitivity to light
Though the side effects listed above are severe, they are not common.
Some of the common side effects listed for metronidazole are:
- Depression, trouble sleeping, feeling irritable
- Nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, or stomach discomfort
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal itching and discharge
- Mouth sores
- Swollen, red, or “hairy” tongue
Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any side effects while taking this medication.
Not all side effects you might experience are listed above. If side effects are severe, stop taking the medication before seeking medical help.
How to Take Metronidazole for Optimal STD Treatment
As with most antibiotics, it is essential to take this medication exactly as prescribed. Including completing the entire course of medication even if symptoms improve.
If taken orally, you should eat something with this medication. This will reduce the risk of upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting when taking metronidazole.
Avoid any alcoholic beverages when taking metronidazole, as this can increase the risk of side effects like nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
Precautions to Take Before, During, and After Using Metronidazole for Treating STDs
There are some precautions you should take to prevent the infection from returning.
- Avoiding alcohol while taking the medication
- Taking metronidazole at the same time every day
- Not sharing your medicines with others and completing the entire course even if symptoms improve
- Letting your doctor know if you are currently pregnant, become pregnant while taking this drug, or are planning on becoming pregnant
- Not breastfeeding or using pumped milk within 24 hours of taking this medication
- Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any side effects. Non-severe side effects can be treated with a different dosage of medication
- This medication has also not been approved for treatment in children or teenagers.
- Metronidazole should not be used to treat vaginal infections in girls without their first menstrual cycle.
There is also a list of diseases that can prevent you from taking this drug.
While most doctors will examine your medical history before prescribing any medication, please let them know if you have or have ever had:
- Liver disease
- Kidney Disease
- A heart rhythm disorder
- A stomach or intestinal condition like Crohn’s disease
- Anemia or low white blood cell counts
- A fungal infection anywhere in your body
- A nerve disorder
Comparing Metronidazole with Other Drugs Used for Treating STDs
Which drug your doctor recommends for STD treatment depends on various things. Exactly what STD you have, what other medications you are on, and what other medical issues you might have.
Other antibiotics used to treat STDs include azithromycin, doxycycline, and ceftriaxone.
Read also: How Can Chlamydia Affect Your Period?
Tips for Preventing the Spread of STDs While on Metronidazole Treatment
Metronidazole effectively treats bacterial STDs but doesn’t stop you from contracting others. Whether you are taking metronidazole or not, it is vital to take precautions when engaging in intercourse. Some ways to prevent STDs include:
- Wearing condoms during sex
- Avoiding having multiple partners
- Regular STD screenings
Can You Take Metronidazole if Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Metronidazole has been known to cause harm to fetuses, significantly in the first trimester of pregnancy. This is why it is essential not to take this medication if you are pregnant and to stop it and let your doctor know if you become pregnant after starting.
It is also recommended that you don’t breastfeed or use pumped milk for 24 hours after taking a dose of metronidazole.
What Drugs and Food Should You Avoid While Taking Metronidazole For STDs?
While taking metronidazole, it is recommended to avoid alcohol to avoid adverse reactions.
Eating right before taking this medication can help you avoid nausea and vomiting, though certain foods might worsen these symptoms.
Foods that contain propylene glycol should be avoided as well. These include:
- Certain seasoning blends
- Dried soups
- Salad dressings
- Baking mixes
- Powdered drink mixes
- Flavored teas
- Soft drinks
Though these foods and drinks might make symptoms of nausea worse, do not worry if you accidentally eat something with propylene glycol in it.
The main thing to avoid is alcohol.
What Happens if You Overdose on Metronidazole?
Call your doctor or the poison control hotline if you suspect an overdose has occurred. Call 911 immediately if someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking metronidazole.
Overdose symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, numbness, tingling, and problems with balance or muscle movement problems.
Can Metronidazole Be Used to Treat All Types of STDs?
Metronidazole is used only to treat bacterial STDs such as vaginosis and trichomoniasis (trichomonas vaginalis). It is not effective against viral infections like herpes or HIV. Make sure to get a correct diagnosis of your STD before starting any medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
Metronidazole is used to treat bacterial infections. While this article focuses on their use with bacterial STDs, they can be used for any bacterial infection.
- Wound infection
- Liver abscess
- Skin or soft tissue infection
- Joint infection
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Balntidium coli
Bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, STD prevention, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are all STDs that can be treated with metronidazole.
Yes, Flagyl is the prescription drug name for metronidazole.
This is the typical dosage for treating any bacterial infection with metronidazole.
The length of treatment depends on the STD you are trying to treat. You should see symptoms begin to improve in a few days and a complete resolution of symptoms in 1 to 2 weeks. As always, continue to take this antibiotic until you are out to prevent the bacterial infection from returning.
Yes, chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is commonly treated with metronidazole.