Metronidazole gel vs tablets

Metronidazole is available in gel and tablet form, but there are other differences between them


Metronidazole is used to treat bacterial and protozoan infections, and comes in a few different forms. The most commonly prescribed forms are tablet and gel. Both of these are used to treat a variety of infections, offering much the same benefit and outcomes in most patients.

However, since their cost tends to be quite different, with the gel costing about ten times as much as the oral tablet, it is worth comparing the two to see which one would be more effective.

A study was conducted to see which one worked better and to compare cost-effectiveness between the two forms of the drug. The study included 60 women ages 18-30 who had no other medical problems beyond a vaginal infection. They also did not take any other medications during the course of the study, nor did they engage in sexual activity. The oral metronidazole tablet proved to be just as effectuve as application of metronidazole gel.  

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Side effects for both forms of the medication tended to be almost non-existent. Only a few of the participants experienced any symptoms, mainly nausea andsq vomiting. Of the 30 who took the oral tablet, 27 experienced clearing up the infection. Of the 30 who used the gel application, 28 experienced success. Essentially, the results were the same.

That generally makes the oral tablet a clear winner in terms of cost-effectiveness, and it makes sense to take the oral tablet as an initial treatment.  However, anyone who has already tried the oral tablet and has suffered significant side effects may want to try the gel instead. It is possible that they will experience fewer or milder side effects. 

There will be people who try both forms of the drug and have greater success with one over the other. In this case, it would be indicated to use whichever form worked best. It is not possible to tell if one form of the drug will be better suited to an individual if they have not previouly tried both.  Therefore, anyone who is taking metronidazole at the direction of their doctor, should consult with their doctor after a few days, and update them on how their infection is progressing and what side effects they are experiencing, if any.  Their doctor may then decide if they should switch from one form of metronidazole to another.  

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Reviewed by Dr Roy Kedem, MD

Information last reviewed 12/06/21

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