Morning-after pill for STDs: SWFL clinic aims to stop the spread

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

When you hear the phrase “morning-after pill,” most thoughts go to pregnancy prevention. But the CDC recently put out an advisory for another morning-after pill: to lower the risk of STDs.

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are spiking in Lee County. “From 2006 to 2022, which was the most recent information, gonorrhea has increased by 50%; syphilis increased by a factor of 10; chlamydia increased by a factor of six,” Dr. John-Paul Bettencourt told WINK News Health and Medical Reporter Amy Oshier.

Bettencourt is the medical director of the McGregor Clinic in Fort Myers. He said Lee County is in the top ten statewide for STDs.

Numbers are going up nationally, too. In June, the CDC endorsed the use of the antibiotic Doxycycline to curb the spread. A 200mg dose is recommended for people who have unprotected sex. The directive is aimed at men who have sex with men or with transgender women, but this treatment would work for anyone who believes they are at risk of getting an STD.

“It doesn’t care about sexual orientation; it doesn’t care about anything; it will very easily get transmitted,” said Dr. Bettencourt.

If the drug is taken within 72 hours of exposure, it can reduce the risk of getting an infection by up to 70%. Ideally, Doxycycline would be taken within 24 hours for the best results. Based on this, the McGregor Clinic recently launched a new service to get people easy access to this morning-after pill.

“We want to be part of the solution to that, so we instituted it in the STD clinic,” Dr. Bettencourt said.

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