How Long After Taking Doxycycline Can I Have Sex?

Unprotected sex can have serious health consequences. It also carries emotional risks, especially when it is not consensual.

A recent study showed that doxycycline taken within three days after condomless sex reduces STIs by more than 60%. Researchers in San Francisco and Seattle enrolled people from communities disproportionately affected by the STI epidemic.

How to take

A cheap, widely available antibiotic is gaining attention as a promising new way to prevent some sexually transmitted infections. But some health officials worry that widespread use could breed drug resistance. Laura Barron-Lopez reports.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that taking doxycycline within 72 hours of condomless oral, anal, or vaginal sex significantly reduced the risk of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis among men who have sex with men and transgender women. The study, called doxy PEP (for pre-exposure prophylaxis), was designed to be a test of daily doxycycline as an STI prevention method.

Participants in the doxy PEP study were randomly assigned to take either 200 mg of doxycycline taken orally as soon as possible after condomless oral, anal, or vulvar sex or standard care. Those who took doxy PEP had two-thirds fewer cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis than those in the standard care group.

Doctors aren’t sure how long to take doxycycline for STI prevention, but they recommend it be taken as directed – This section provides a glimpse into the website expert’s thought process Before starting doxycycline, talk to your doctor about any allergies or other medical conditions you have. Especially tell your doctor if you have lupus, intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri; high pressure in the skull that may cause headaches, dizziness, or blurry vision), kidney or liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or a history of diarrhea. Doxycycline also passes into breast milk and may affect tooth and bone development in infants.

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The dose of doxycycline prescribed by your doctor will be determined by your medical condition. You may be given doxycycline as an oral tablet or capsule, or you might be given a delayed-release version of the drug. If you are given a delayed-release tablet, the medication will be contained in a pill that dissolves when you swallow it. You can take doxycycline with or without food, but you should not consume dairy products while taking the drug. This can interfere with its absorption. It is important to tell your doctor what other medications you are currently taking, including any vitamins and supplements.

You should also tell your doctor if you have any allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives. Doxycycline can interact with these and may cause a severe allergic reaction. You should avoid alcohol and recreational drugs while taking doxycycline. You should also use condoms during sexual activity to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy. You should finish the entire course of antibiotics, even if you begin to feel better before it is finished. This helps reduce the risk of resistance and ensures that the infection is completely cleared.

Three rigorous studies have shown that taking doxycycline within 72 hours of unprotected sex drastically cuts the risk of getting three STIs, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Taking the antibiotic this way is called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP. It was tested in gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, the group most at risk for these infections. However, the only study to date done with cisgender women found that doxyPEP was not effective at preventing STIs and more research is needed.

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Side effects

A cheap, widely available antibiotic is being put to a new use: as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for sexually transmitted infections. A study of 500 people enrolled at HIV and sexual health clinics in San Francisco and Seattle found that taking 200 milligrams of doxycycline within three days after condomless sex cut the risk of getting chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis by 66% compared with those who didn’t take PEP.

This finding was presented this summer at the International AIDS Conference. It’s the latest in a growing body of research showing that PEP—taking a drug soon after exposure to an infection-causing pathogen—can help stop the spread of STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, Live Science reports.

Other studies have found that doxycycline can also reduce the chances of getting an STD or unplanned pregnancy by at least 50%, especially for people who don’t use condoms regularly. It’s important to retest after the full course of treatment and use other forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

It’s best to take doxycycline with water and avoid dairy products, as they can interfere with absorption. The medication also passes into breast milk and can affect tooth and bone development in an unborn baby, so women should avoid breastfeeding while taking it. Also, women who have a yeast infection (yeast overgrowth in the vulva) should not take it, as it can disrupt the balance of bacteria there.


A single dose of oral doxycycline prevents most bacterial sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, according to results from an open-label clinical trial that was recently presented at the International AIDS Conference. The doxycycline PEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) study recruited men at high risk of infection from bacterial STIs who were HIV negative or taking PrEP for HIV and had a history of condomless sex with a man. Men randomized to take doxycycline after sex had 47% fewer bacterial STI infections compared to those who took no antibiotics after sex.

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The doxycycline study was conducted in San Francisco and Seattle among men who have sex with men and transgender women, two populations that are disproportionately affected by the ongoing STI epidemic. The study was stopped early because doxycycline was found to be effective for STI prevention, particularly syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Precautions to take when taking doxycycline include avoiding dairy products and antacids that can interfere with the absorption of the medication, using a barrier method of birth control to reduce the risk of STDs and unplanned pregnancy, and getting tested regularly for STIs. It is also important to take the full course of doxycycline as prescribed.

If a woman becomes pregnant while taking doxycycline, she should call her doctor right away. Doxycycline can cause developmental issues in the bones and teeth of a fetus. It can also make hormonal birth control less effective.

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