Young woman with symptoms wondering if STDs can go away without treatment

Can STDs Go Away Without Treatment?

Written on August 11, 2023 by Gillian Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. Last updated October 13, 2023. 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

Sexually transmitted infections and diseases can persist, evade the immune system, and eventually cause long-term undesirable health complications if left untreated. [1] Getting tested regularly, practicing safer sex, and getting medical care if any symptoms or risks are present are essential steps in combating the spread and impact of STIs/STDs.


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are both common: the CDC reports that there are millions of new infections every year in the United States. [2] The terms STD and STI are often used interchangeably. [3]

Examples of bacterial and parasitic STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and pubic lice (crabs). These infections/infestations can be cured with treatments like antibiotics or, in the case of pubic lice, certain lotions. [4-5]

Examples of viral sexually transmitted infections include hepatitis B, herpes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and human papillomavirus (HPV). [6] Viral STDs are often chronic and while they can be managed and treated to the point where symptoms are minimal or undetectable, they may require life-long management and care. [7] Treatments can include medications like antivirals along with other options, though some STIs have no cure, such as HPV (although up to 90% of infections are cleared by the body within 2 years). [8]

So, can STDs go away without treatment? With very few exceptions, no.

The Risk Of Leaving Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) And Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Untreated

Leaving sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STDs) unchecked can have serious and even fatal effects and outcomes on you and your sexual partner(s). Fortunately, it's possible to take steps to prevent transmission and treatment can be speedy, depending on the STI. Continue reading to learn more about the risks of leaving your STIs and STDs untreated.

Private STD consultations


Leaving STIs untreated doesn’t just affect your partner or partners’ health — it affects yours. If untreated, you may experience prolonged and/or worsening symptoms that are uncomfortable and affect your quality of life. [4]

Infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea can spread to the upper genital tract and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in people assigned female at birth. [9] PID is a serious condition that can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies (pregnancy outside the uterus). [9]

Untreated HIV infection leads to the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is a life-threatening condition that significantly increases the person's risk of getting other infections. [10]

Untreated STIs such as HPV or syphilis can even increase your risk of some cancers, or result in the development of neurological diseases. [11, 12]


Some individuals infected with STIs/STDs might not experience noticeable symptoms, resulting in an asymptomatic infection. Although they do not show any signs of sickness or infection, they can still transmit the infection/disease to their sexual partners. [13] Individuals who remain unaware of their infection might unknowingly pass it on to others. This further perpetuates the spread of STIs/STDs, particularly within tight-knit communities and populations.

Additionally, in recent years, there has been a rise in drug-resistant strains of infections. [14, 15] Gonorrhea has progressively become resistant to the antibiotics prescribed to treat it. Following the spread of gonococcal fluoroquinolone resistance, the cephalosporin antibiotics have been the foundation of recommended treatment for gonorrhea. [16] Cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea would complicate providers' ability to successfully treat gonorrhea given the few antibiotic options left that are simple, well-studied, well-tolerated and highly effective. [16]

Getting STD Care and Prescriptions With Everlywell

Looking for a way to get treatment? Everlywell now provides fast and easy telehealth visits that are covered by major insurance plans. You can receive care from a licensed nurse practitioner via technology that protects your privacy—and it’s all at your fingertips. Depending on your insurance, you may pay between ten and sixty dollars. Many major insurance plans are accepted.

With telehealth from Everlywell, you are just three simple steps away from talking to a provider and receiving remote care:

  1. Create your profile online, fill out your medical history, and check to see if your insurance is accepted.
  2. Schedule your online visit.
  3. Receive a care plan to address your needs and symptoms, which may include testing, prescriptions, or lifestyle recommendations.

Can STDs Go Away Without Treatment?

Mycoplasma Genitalium—What To Know About This STI

What STD Causes Night Sweats?


  1. Chesson HW, Mayaud P, Aral SO. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Prevention. In: Holmes KK, Bertozzi S, Bloom BR, Jha P, eds. Major Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. Washington (DC): The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank; November 3, 2017.
  2. Diseases & Related Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  3. Markle W, Conti T, Kad M. Sexually transmitted diseases. Prim Care. 2013;40(3):557-587. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2013.05.001
  4. Garcia MR, Leslie SW, Wray AA. Sexually Transmitted Infections. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; May 30, 2023.
  5. Pubic "Crab" Lice - Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections (STDs). Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  7. Otu A, Danhoundo G, Toskin I, Govender V, Yaya S. Refocusing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to improve reproductive health: a call to further action. Reprod Health. 2021;18(1):242. Published 2021 Dec 1. doi:10.1186/s12978-021-01296-4
  8. Genital HPV Infection – Basic Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  9. Jennings LK, Krywko DM. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; March 13, 2023.
  10. Patel K, Zhang A, Zhang MH, et al. Forty Years Since the Epidemic: Modern Paradigms in HIV Diagnosis and Treatment. Cureus. 2021;13(5):e14805. Published 2021 May 2. doi:10.7759/cureus.14805
  11. Basic Information about HPV and Cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  12. Facts on Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
  13. Rieg G, Lewis RJ, Miller LG, Witt MD, Guerrero M, Daar ES. Asymptomatic sexually transmitted infections in HIV-infected men who have sex with men: prevalence, incidence, predictors, and screening strategies. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008;22(12):947-954. doi:10.1089/apc.2007.0240
  14. Seña AC, Bachmann L, Johnston C, et al. Optimising treatments for sexually transmitted infections: surveillance, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, therapeutic strategies, and molecular resistance prediction. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(8):e181-e191. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30171-7
  15. Krupp K, Madhivanan P. Antibiotic resistance in prevalent bacterial and protozoan sexually transmitted infections. Indian J Sex Transm Dis AIDS. 2015;36(1):3-8. doi:10.4103/0253-7184.156680
  16. Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 13, 2023.
Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More