QI, Syphilis, antibiotics, booze

My sister, being either very thorough or very bored, watched the entire QI clip that I linked to, and noticed that at 11:04 there’s a bit about antibiotics, sexually transmitted infections, and alcohol. She said I had to write a post about it.

So here.

Lots of people get told by their docs not to drink when they’re on antibiotics for STIs. QI tells us that the reason for this is not medical but behavioral: if you’re on antibiotics for an STI, you really oughta not be having unprotected sex, and getting drunk is maybe not helpful in that. So docs say, “Don’t drink with this antibiotic.”

Except for sometimes.

Allow me to tell you a story that illustrates the kind of relationships I have with my medical providers, as well as memorably reinforcing this idea of NOT drinking with antibiotics.

Several years ago, I was at the doc to get antibiotics for a UTI. I had a DOOZY of an infection, so I was in pretty serious pain while I waited for the test results to confirm the diagnosis. I did not want to chit chat with the doc, but heck I try to be friendly and darn it I talk about vaginas for a living, which is a pretty rare and appealing thing for a medical practitioner. It’s quite common for my doctor visits to take at least twice as long as planned because the provider gets into a conversation with me about birth control, sexual dysfunction, or STIs.

So we got to talking about antibiotics and STIs. Here’s what she told me, while I sat there blinking against the pain and taking deep, cleansing breaths:

DOC: Yeah, if you get the kind of antibiotics that say, ‘Don’t drink alcohol with these,’ take that really seriously. The antibiotics for STDs? Don’t ever drink with those.

ME: Yeah? How come? What happens?

(Here comes the punchline:)

DOC: You will puke up your toes.

A colorful phrase that I pass it on to you, to help you remember not to drink with your antibiotics if the label says not to.

I suffered about 10 extra minutes of UTI pain for that anecdote. You bet your bippy I want to make the most of it.