They are the first port of call for treating a bacterial infection, but now the results of a new study have revealed that taking antibiotics could increase your chance of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.
Researchers in Korea and Japan have found that the drugs contribute to the disruption of microbiome in the vagina. This leads to a reduction in bacterial diversity which can cause an increase in the compound that prevents the immune system’s T-cells from battling infections in the vagina.
After treating a selection of mice with antibiotics for four weeks, researchers then exposed the rodents to the genital herpes type infection HSV-2, and found those which received the drugs contracted the virus a lot faster than those who were given a placebo of water.
The team of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, led by Ji Eun Oh, looked at the findings, which showed that the drugs caused an imbalance of bacteria of the microbiota, which play a vital role in managing the immune system, known as dysbiosis.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted that this imbalance appeared to have been caused by oral antibiotic treatment, adding that it “directly impairs antiviral immunity following viral infection of the vaginal mucosa”.
The findings also showed that the mice which became infected with the HSV-2 virus had a “delayed viral clearance at the site of infection”, meaning it took longer for them to combat the virus.