There are two types of STDs: bacterial and viral. STD treatment of bacterial STDs is possible via a round or two of antibiotics. Viral STDs do not have a cure. Some like HIV infect the body for life. We can only treat their symptoms.
But is it possible for any of these STDs to go away on their own? Do you always have to seek STD treatment or can you cross your fingers and hope you get well?
From a practical point of view, I wouldn’t and neither would any doctor recommend not seeking treatment and instead crossing your fingers and hoping for the best
If you have tested positive for an STD, whether viral or bacterial, you should go see your doctor. It’s essential that you start treatment immediately either to cure the infection or manage it.
If you wait too long, even if you don’t see any symptoms, the infection could be doing serious damage behind the scenes.
Some STDs like syphilis and chlamydia can cause brain damage, cancer, bareness & impotency and sometimes even death after years of developing quietly in the body.
However, from a purely scientific point of view researchers have found that some STDs in some people can sometimes resolve on their own without the need for medical intervention.
The reason why that answer sounds so unsure is that there is no guarantee of it happening. It’s just a phenomenon that has been observed in limited circumstances.
It’s difficult for scientists to study the natural progression of a sexually transmitted infection, what is referred to as its natural history.
This is because you can’t just take subjects and let them live with an STD of years without treatment to see whether it resolves naturally. It’s dangerous and unethical.
In the few studies they have done, researchers have only observed untreated infections for short periods of weeks and months.
It’s only one study which was done in Oslo, Norway where researchers observed syphilis patients for a period of 20 years (1891-1910).
It involved around 2,000 patients for whom the lead doctor believed that the current syphilis treatment at the time was ineffective. So he let them go without treatment and observed them over a 2-decade period.
The study showed that, while many people were able to live for over a decade without any adverse symptoms, many eventually developed secondary and other later stages of syphilis.
Most modern studies have come roughly to the same conclusion. One found that while the chlamydia infection in some people resolves spontaneously, in many it develops into serious symptoms and additional complications.
Other studies have found that people with bacterial STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia still show signs of infections after a few weeks or months without treatment.
We have no idea whether a significant percentage of patients would still have the infections after several years. This is because most of the subjects in these studies had to undergo treatment. Thus, their infections’ natural history couldn’t be studied long term.
Viral Lifelong Infection
The only STDs that seem to consistently go away on their own are viral ones. You can’t treat these anyway.
Some of the viral STDs that might resolve naturally include Molluscum contagiosum (clears in as few as 6 months but can stick around for up to 4 years), HPV (some cases clear in 1-2 years), Hepatitis A (clears in 2-6 months) and Acute hepatitis B (clears in 6 months).
But what scientists are not sure is whether these infections completely go away or simply lie dormant in the body.
Other viral STDs affect an individual for the length of their life. They progress through increasingly severe stages or alternate between inactive and active phases.
HIV, for instance, worsens over time without treatment. Luckily, antiretroviral drugs can help patients live close-to-normal lives.
HPV can lie inactive for years but start causing complications after some time.
Chronic hepatitis B results in chronic hepatitis C which sticks around for the rest of a person’s life. It can cause liver disease after years of lying dormant in the body.
Oral herpes and genital herpes typically oscillate between active and inactive phases. But they can be spread to sexual partners regardless of the phase they are in.
Go get an anonymous online test or visit a local STD testing clinic. In fact, you should be testing for the most common STDs on a regular basis (at least once a year).
If you test positive for any STD, see your doctor for treatment. Do not wait.