Written on August 11, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Table of contents
Millions of people are infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In the United States, over 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 1 in 5 Americans have an STD. New STDs contribute to nearly $16 billion in direct healthcare expenses annually. A reported $1.1 billion in direct medical care costs was associated with three common and preventable STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
All STDs are treatable, and many are curable.[3,4] STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are caused by bacterial infections. Chlamydia is caused by infection with the microbe Chlamydia trachomatis. Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and syphilis by Treponema pallidum. Like these three STDs, other STDs are caused by bacteria, and various antibiotics are used in the treatment. Augmentin® is a frequently used antibiotic for various infections, including STDs.[4-6]
Augmentin® is a frequently used oral antibiotic composed of two active ingredients, amoxicillin, and clavulanic acid.[5,7] Amoxicillin is a derivative of penicillin and is considered a third-generation penicillin antibiotic.[5,8] Amoxicillin, like penicillin, has activity against similar types of bacteria, including Enterococcus species, Listeria monocytogenes, Streptococcus species, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella species. Adding clavulanic acid to amoxicillin broadens the coverage to include organisms such as Neisseria species, Proteus species, and Pasteurella multocida. Augmentin® has approved indications to treat lower respiratory tract infections, sinusitis, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and acute ear infections.[5,7] It can also be used less commonly to treat other types of infectious conditions.[5,6]
Augmentin® works by the combined mechanisms of action of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid.[5,7] Amoxicillin is considered a broad-spectrum beta-lactam antibiotic. It has bactericidal properties that target and kill bacteria. Amoxicillin works by inhibiting the production of the outermost layer of the bacterial cell wall. The drug binds to a protein called penicillin-binding protein (PBP) to interrupt the creation of the outer layer, destroying the bacteria. Over time, microbes can develop resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, like amoxicillin, by making an enzyme known as beta-lactamase. Clavulanic acid is an inhibitor of the beta-lactamase enzymes and is added to amoxicillin to help reduce this resistance. Clavulanic acid by itself has very little antimicrobial activity, but when combined with amoxicillin, it broadens the antibiotic effects of amoxicillin.
Current CDC treatment guidelines do not specifically mention Augmentin® as a preferred or alternative therapy for STDs. However, your healthcare provider will determine which treatment is best suited for you based on your individual circumstances. Augmentin® could potentially be used for STD treatment.[4-6] Here are some reasons why Augmentin® could be used for chlamydia and gonorrhea.[4,5,7,9,10]
The CDC treatment guideline lists amoxicillin, a component of Augmentin®, as a recommended alternative therapy for the treatment of chlamydia in pregnant women. Augmentin® is also a pregnancy category B and considered safe to use if needed.[5,7] Therefore, Augmentin® could be an option for pregnant women with chlamydia. Additionally, studies from the early 1980s have shown that Augmentin® was effective against Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent for gonorrhea.[5,9,10]
If you think that you have been exposed to an STD, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider. They will be able to determine the most appropriate treatment option for you. As part of therapy, your healthcare provider will also discuss STD prevention strategies with you.
Augmentin® is generally considered safe and is well-tolerated by most people. The majority of the common side effects are mild gastrointestinal symptoms. These include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. There have also been reports of Clostridium difficile-related diarrhea with Augmentin® use.[5,7] Other potentially less common side effects are skin rash, hepatic dysfunction, vasculitis, and seizures.
If you think you have been exposed to an STD, or are experiencing signs and symptoms associated with STDs, reach out to your healthcare provider. At Everlywell, you have the option to schedule on-demand, virtual STD consults. You can connect with a clinician in two hours or less via video call. If applicable, you can get treatment and have your prescription sent directly to your pharmacy.