Syphilis


What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a kind of bacteria. It's spread during vaginal, oral and anal sex. Syphilis is treatable and curable with antibiotics.

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Are there symptoms of syphilis?

Yes, people who have syphilis can sometimes have symptoms. But, like other STDs, syphilis symptoms can go unnoticed or feel like the flu. Early on, skin sores can show up on the penis, vagina, anus, or in the mouth. While unpleasant, these sores usually aren't painful. After a month or two, people who have syphilis symptoms can have a rash on their palms and feet. Left untreated or unnoticed, advanced syphilis can cause serious problems including brain damage, paralysis, blindness, and death.

How do you get syphilis?

Syphilis is spread through direct contact with syphilis sores that occur primarily on male and female genital and anal areas So, how can it be prevented? Well, while unpopular, not having sex at all is the only way to be 100% safe from STDs. If you are sexually active, condom use every time for oral, vaginal, and anal sex is your best bet for staying healthy.

How do I get tested for syphilis?

The syphilis Rapid Plasma Reagin Test (RPR) is a simple blood test that looks for antibodies the body makes to fight the syphilis infection. It can take 4 to 6 weeks after infection for antibodies to be found. It's also important to know that if you've had syphilis in the past and were treated for it, the test results could still be positive. Always keep a copy of your health records to show your doctor if you test positive again for syphilis. This screening test is very sensitive but not very specific. What does that mean? It means it's possible to get a "false-positive" result. If you get a positive result, your doctor will order another more specific test for confirmation.

Is there a treatment or a cure for syphilis?

Yes. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Both you and your partner must be treated for syphilis before you can have sexual contact again. It's the best way to avoid getting re-infected. As always, follow your doctor's instructions.

What if I don't get treated for syphilis?

In both men and women, syphilis can be silent for years. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to serious health problems and possibly death. This is all the more tragic because syphilis is easy to detect and simple to cure. For pregnant women, untreated syphilis can cause a miscarriage or the baby can be born with the disease. There is also an increased risk of getting syphilis if exposed to it it you have syphilis.

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