Hesperian Health Guides

Taking Medicines to Treat STIs

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 16: Sexually Transmitted Infections and Other Infections of the Genitals > Taking Medicines to Treat STIs

a man who works in a pharmacy showing a box of medicine to a woman

Before you take any medicine, you can read about it in the “Green Pages.” There you will find more information you should know.

Warnings are given in this chapter if pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take a medicine. If a medicine does not have a warning, it is safe to take.

In this chapter we recommend medicines that treat different STIs. Remember that most people have more than one STI or other infection of the genitals at the same time, so it is often necessary to take more than one medicine. Whichever medicines you take, be sure to take them correctly.

Different kinds of medicines are sold in different parts of the world, and the prices may vary. Because of this, some medicines may not be available where you live, or there may be a different medicine that is more effective and less costly.

You may also need to take a different medicine if:

  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding and the medicine is not safe to take during those times.
  • the STI you are trying to treat has become resistant to the medicine.
  • you have an allergy to the medicine. Some people are allergic to penicillins or sulfa medicines. See how to substitute antibiotics.

Drug resistance and STI medicines

If you are not sure which medicine will work best for a problem, try to check with a health worker or pharmacist who will know which medicines are best where you live.

When using medicines for treating STIs and other diseases, it is very important to take all the medicine. If a person does not take enough of the right kind of medicine—or stops taking the medicine before the treatment is finished—the germs causing the infection are not all killed. The strongest germs survive and create stronger forms of the disease. Then a medicine that once worked against that disease is no longer able to cure it. This is called resistance.

For this reason, in many places gonorrhea has become resistant to the drugs usually used to treat it. Talk with a health worker to find out if there is drug resistance where you live, and what are the best, locally-available medicines to treat STIs.