Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea are on the rise. They disproportionately affect MSM and transgender women and can lead to serious health issues.
Studies have found that taking the antibiotic doxycycline within 72 hours of unprotected sex can significantly reduce the risk of infection for those at high risk. This is called doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Wait at Least 7 Days After Taking Doxycycline
The antibiotic doxycycline is used to treat infections and protect against malaria. It can also prevent STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. However, it is important to wait until 7 days after the last dose of doxycycline before engaging in sexual activity. This will ensure that the medication has fully cleared your system and can be effective in preventing infection. In addition to waiting, it is also essential to practice safe sex by using barrier methods and getting tested regularly for STIs. At Nao Medical, we can provide you with expert advice and high quality products that can help you stay healthy and happy in the bedroom.
Studies have found that taking doxycycline within three days of unprotected sex reduces the risk of contracting chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis by more than 60%. These studies have primarily been conducted with gay men who are at a higher risk of bacterial STIs and don’t always use condoms. They were given a 200mg dose of doxycycline (two 100mg pills) after sex and again at 72 hours after condomless sex. This is called doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis or doxyPEP.
One study also randomised MSM and transgender women on HIV PrEP to either take doxyPEP or standard care without the antibiotic. These participants were tested for STIs quarterly. The doxyPEP group had 67% fewer cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea compared to the control group.
Avoid Contact With Other People
The antibiotics used for chlamydia treatment are extremely effective, but it still takes seven days for them to clear your system. That means that you cannot safely have sex during this time. Even if you are using a condom, there is still a risk of passing chlamydia and gonorrhea to your partner.
While you’re taking doxycycline, your partners should also be tested for the STIs you have and treated if necessary. This is especially important for anyone who may have participated in higher risk transmission behaviors like oral sex, anal sex or a sex act where tearing may have happened and exposed blood to the penis.
If you’re at a high risk for bacterial STIs and don’t have access to the condoms that can help prevent them, your doctor can prescribe doxycycline to take on-demand. This approach is known as doxyPEP, and it has been shown to be just as effective at preventing syphilis and chlamydia compared to standard HIV prevention.
Taking doxycycline can cause your birth control pill to stop working properly. Talk to your care team about using an additional form of birth control while you’re taking doxycycline. They can recommend an over-the-counter product or prescribe a stronger prescription that you can crush and sprinkle over your birth control pills to boost their efficacy. Avoid contact with sunlight while you’re taking doxycycline because it can make you more sensitive to light and increase sunburn risk.
Practice Safe Sex
Practicing safe sex is the best way to protect yourself and your partner from getting an STD or giving one to your partner. This includes using condoms during all sexual activity and avoiding any contact that puts your body at risk, such as anal, oral or vaginal touch or skin-to-skin contact. It’s also important to get hepatitis A and B vaccines, which are widely available and effective.
Keeping up with the basics of safe sex can prevent STIs from spreading, even when you’re on antibiotics. This means being open with new and current partners about your sex history, your preference for protection (like condoms), and your choices for drug use during sex. Talking about these issues can help prevent heat-of-the-moment decisions and sex while under the influence that may lead to infection or unintended pregnancy.
Practicing safe sex is also about being aware of your sexual activity and looking for signs that you or your partner are at risk of an STI, like redness, swelling, sores or discharge. If you see any of these symptoms, it’s important to go to the doctor and get tested for a STI as soon as possible.
See Your Doctor
A doctor can be a good resource for learning more about how long it takes for doxycycline to clear from your system, and the most effective way to avoid sexual side effects. They’re also more likely to be familiar with your particular medical history, so they can help you understand whether your symptoms are related to the antibiotic or another condition.
In some cases, men taking doxycycline for chlamydia may experience erectile dysfunction (ED). This is due to the fact that the antibiotic can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. ED is also linked to mycoplasma genitalium, an infection that causes inflammation of the urethra.
Doxycycline has been shown to be an effective tool for reducing bacterial STIs, specifically gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis. The antibiotic is traditionally used to treat bacterial infections, but when taken as a post-exposure prophylactic within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce STIs by more than 60%.
In one study, 30 MSM living with HIV who had had syphilis twice or more since diagnosis were assigned to take 100mg of doxycycline daily for 48 weeks or to receive monetary incentives to practice safe sex. The doxycycline group had 73% fewer bacterial STIs than the control group. Other studies have looked at doxycycline as pre-exposure prophylaxis for syphilis, with similar results.