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Syphilis is an STD caused by a bacterium called Treponema palliduium. It’s known as the ‘great imitator’ because its symptoms are hard to distinguish from other STDs.

Syphilis is easy to treat. The unfortunate thing is that most infected people don’t know they’ve got it.

In the long-term, if you’ve got untreated syphilis, you can go blind, lose your mind, and even die.

How do you get syphilis?

You get syphilis by coming into contact with a syphilis sore or rash.

Usually, this is through having unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Sometimes you can get syphilis by coming into contact with a syphilis rash on an infected person’s body. However, this is unlikely.

Mothers infected with syphilis can also pass it on to their babies.

What are the signs that you've got syphilis?

The first signs of syphilis show up within three months of infection. In general, both women and men develop one or more painless ulcers on their genitals. These ulcers are also called chancres.

Chancres heal within three to six weeks without treatment. But you’re still infected with syphilis. Without treatment, it will progress to a secondary stage.

In women, chancres can appear on:

  •     the vulva
  •     the cervix
  •     the anus
  •     the mouth

In men, chancres can appear on:

  •     the penis
  •     the anus
  •     the mouth

Secondary stages of syphilis

Three to six months after the first signs of syphilis, the disease shows up again.

Secondary signs of syphilis include:

  •     Flu-like illness including tiredness and loss of appetite
  •     A non-itchy rash covering the whole body or appearing in patches
  •     Rough, red, or reddish brown spots on both the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  •     Flat, warty-looking growths in the genital areas
  •     Flat, warty-looking growths around the anus
  •     Patchy hair loss

As with the first stage of syphilis, these symptoms go away without treatment. However, the infection is still there. Without treatment, the infection silently progresses to its late stages.

Late stages of syphilis
You can have a syphilis infection with no symptoms for 20 to 30 years after first being infected. However, during this time, syphilis is silently damaging your nervous system.

Late signs of syphilis infection include:

  •     Difficulty with muscle movements
  •     Paralysis
  •     Numbness
  •     Blindness
  •     Dementia
  •     Death

How can you protect yourself from getting syphilis?

1. Always use condoms.
Condoms lower your risk of getting syphilis. However, they don’t eliminate the risk entirely. Syphilis sores or rashes don’t always occur in places where condoms cover or protect, which is why you can get syphilis even if you’re wearing a condom.

2. Get tested with your partner for syphilis.
Whenever you’ve got a new partner, before having sex, go get tested. You or your partner could be infected with syphilis and not know it.

3. If you've got unusual discharge, sores, or pain when you urinate get tested for syphilis and other STDs.

These symptoms are signs that something is wrong. Also, let your partner know, so he or she can get tested and treated too. Otherwise, you may pass syphilis back and forth between you and your partner.

    Syphilis and pregnancy

    If you’re pregnant and infected with syphilis, you can pass it on to your unborn baby. If untreated, your baby may be stillborn or die soon after birth.

    To prevent this from happening, in most countries pregnant women are tested for syphilis. If you have a blood test early on in pregnancy, the syphilis test will just be routinely included.

    How do you get tested for syphilis?

    Syphilis testing in women and men is the same. The doctor will take a blood sample and test it for syphilis. He or she will also check to see if you’ve got sores or rashes that match a syphilis diagnosis.

    How do you get rid of syphilis?

    Syphilis is easy to cure, especially in the early stages.

    You’ll be given an antibiotic injection and/or a course of antibiotic tablets to take. The medication will kill the bacteria, but won’t repair any damage caused by long-term infections. After finishing your treatment, you may be asked to come back again and get tested to see whether the syphilis infection is gone.

    Being infected with syphilis once doesn't make you immune from it for the rest of your life. You can get the disease again, so it’s important to protect yourself from re-infection.

    Did you learn something new?

    Tue, 01/03/2017 - 11:54 am
    I am in a relationship with a guy.during sex i dont feel anything. Is not that he dont srx me well.but i dont feel something wrong with my sex life

    Hi Natasha, first it is a violation for anyone to force you to have sex. The decision to have sex or not to, is entirely your decision and no one should force you even if this is your partner. It is not possible to enjoy something that you didn't want in the first place. To enjoy sex, it has to first be voluntary, you have to consent or agree to have it. Sex is not just physical, it is also emotional and psychological. All of these determine whether one will enjoy or not. It maybe important for you talk to some close to you, some you trust about what happened to you so they can support. Check out this article;- 

    Wed, 11/14/2018 - 03:49 pm
    Hey friends i have a question,i have an infection av tried to treat several tyms but am stil not fyn wat should i do,my urine is in yellow,feeling pain in my balls.Help me

    Hi Joseph, first the yellow urine may just be an indicator that you are not taking enough water. Aside from the pain in your balls, are you having a discharge through your penis, are you experiencing pain as you pass urine? It is important you get checked, including having tests done to determine what could be going. Visit a medical center for a check up.

    Hey Simon, Genital herpes is an STD caused by two different types of herpes simplex virus (HSV). It looks like a cold sore or blister. When one is infected with genital herpes, they may get blisters around their penis, vagina, or anus. Once the blister pops, they'll have a sore in this area. Blisters can come back every few weeks or months. Syphilis on the other hand Syphilis is an STD caused by a bacterium and it comes with symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. It is also easy to treat only that most people dont even know that they have got it. Herpes on the other hand, cannot be treated, once someone has it, they will have it for life. Have a look at the following article for more information on Herpes;-

    Hey Raylee, a Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. There are tests that are used to test for Syphilis, Herpes or any other Sexually Transmitted Infection.

    Hi Jacoolive, HIV destroys the immune system of the infected person. This leaves the person defenseless which means they can get ant infection from a common cold to Tuberculosis (TB). Check out the following article for more information;-

    Fri, 05/31/2019 - 04:58 pm
    These days I have a lot of vaginal discharge and my V smells funny. Does this mean I have an STI? I am sexually active with 2 different guys.

    Hi there, vaginal odour, or smell, is normal. Every vagina has its own, individual scent, and one shouldn't try to change or disguise it.However, changes in odour can be a sign for something that's not right. It is very important to keep an eye on changes in discharge. A drastic change in odour, color, texture and even quantity can be a sign of something abnormal. Have a look at the following article for additional information;-

    I have syphilis, I was infected by my partner, but I never knew it was syphilis until four month later, and I have been sleeping with her regularly. After four month I went to a pharmacy which I took some injections everyday for one week, those rashes disappeared, but for weeks it came back again.pls doc I need help, what should I do?

    Dear Jakes, did you get a test done to be sure it was syphilis? You need to visit a medical centre for a check up and treatment. IT is also important you cease all sexual activity or use protection each time to prevent the risk of reinfection. Also, get your partner to checked and treated as well. 

    Fri, 02/21/2020 - 10:43 am
    Hv been hving yeast infection as show on my test, smtyms, thick/watery, but dose nt smell, but do itches smtymx, hv taking drugs as perscribe frm my doc, but stil nt stoping

    Hello Thelma , thank you for reaching out to us. Since this is a medical issue that has not subsided even after prescription, we strongly advise you return to your gynaecologist for a comprehensive diagnosis. 
    Here is a list of health institutions that should be of help  

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