Common symptoms of Syphilis (STD) in women are Painless Genital Sores and Genital Ulcers that come and go. What are the causes, symptoms, treatments of syphilis?
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a Sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum
How do you get Syphilis?
You can catch the STD if:
- You have unprotected vaginal or anal sex with someone who already has the infection.
- You are giving or receiving oral sex with someone who has syphilis
- You are sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used
- You have direct skin contact with someone who has syphilis sores or a syphilis rash
Even if you have had the above STD before, you can still catch it again.
You can’t get this STD from hugging, sharing baths or towels, toilet seats or from sharing cups, plates or cutlery.
What are the symptoms of Syphilis ?
Syphilis can develop in stages:
- The first stage is called primary syphilis
- The second stage is called secondary syphilis
- The latent stage is called latent syphilis
- The third stage is called tertiary syphilis
The primary stage begins with a single sore (called a chancre), but there can also be multiple sores. If not treated at this stage it will progress to the secondary stage.
The secondary stage consists of skin rash and lesions that usually appear on the palm of the hands or bottom of feet. If not treated at this stage it will progress to the late or latent stage
The latent stage, also called the hidden stage, begins when primary and secondary symptoms disappear, but the disease is still present. Without treatment, syphilis can lead to blindness and death.
Third stage syphilis is when the infection is left untreated after many years . It may cause serious damage to the heart, brain, bones and nervous system.
Learn more about symptoms of other Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
Do I need any syphilis tests?
Yes, if you have an ulcer which might be caused by syphilis, it is possible to take a swab from the ulcer to make the diagnosis.
A blood test will need to be taken too and sent to a laboratory where it will be tested for antibodies against the bacteria that cause this STD.
For some people syphilis will not show up on the test straight away so it might need to be repeated.
If you have had oral or anal sex, the doctor may also take swabs from your throat and anus.
If you have this above STD, you should also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, Chlamydia, hepatitis B and gonorrhoea, as you can have more than one infection at the same time.
What is the treatment?
Treatment is simple
If there’s a high chance you have the infection, treatment may be started before the results of the test are back.
This STD is treated with a course of antibiotics, usually penicillin injections.
Should I have sex if I have Syphilis?
You should avoid any sex, even with a condom, until after both you and your partner have finished all your treatment and you are reviewed by your doctor .
What are the possible complications of Syphilis?
Once you have had treatment for syphilis, some of your blood tests will always be positive.
This does not mean you need further treatment but you need to remember that you have been treated for syphilis (and keep a copy of you blood results) so you can tell doctors in the future if they ask you.
Do I need to tell my partner?
If you do have this STD, it is essential that your current sexual partner, and any other sexual partner you have had over the last three months, is tested and treated.
If you have secondary syphilis it is important to contact partners over the last 2 years.
This is to stop you getting the infection again, and also so your partners do not develop complications.
(This article is written by our guest writer Dr Mastura Shahrum)
Take care gals!
Dr. Mastura Shahrum