Syphilis is an STD or sexually transmitted disease that can be passed sexually through the mouth, vagina, lips, anus, penis, and urethra.
Syphilis can cause serious health problems when it is untreated.
Symptoms can be mild or there would be none which could make an infected person unaware of it.
There are 3 stages of syphilis which could show a latent stage where the infected person will be symptom-free for a long period of time.
There are different symptoms for every stage and they may include:
One or a few painless chancre, which is a wet ulcer or a sore, will appear after 3 weeks or 90 days after infection. The sores or chancres will appear in the anus, vagina, breasts, the cervix, mouth, and lips that go away after 3-6 weeks even without treatment. The infected person will also experience swollen glands at this stage.
After the sores disappear, other symptoms will start to appear if the infection is untreated. The symptoms that show in this phase will come and go for two years. Rashes growing on the soles of the feet or palms of the hand will last for 2-6 weeks. The infected person will also have other symptoms such as muscle pains, low-grade fever, headache, fatigue, swollen glands, sore throat, weight loss, and hair loss.
If syphilis remains untreated during the first two stages, it will progress to the late stage which causes serious health problems and damage to the brain, nervous system, heart, and other major organs resulting in death. Reaching this stage would mean 20 years has passed since the time when the infection happened.
The first two stages of syphilis are highly treatable. An antibiotic regimen usually clears up the infection. Your sexual partner/s should have to be informed to make them take an STD test and be treated if found to be positive for infection.
The late phase of syphilis can still be treated, but the damage that has been done to the major organs of the body cannot be undone. The best way to avoid this is to have regular testing leading to an earlier treatment which could prevent future serious health problems.
Contact with the syphilis sores is the way the infection is spread. Direct contact takes the form of:
- Kissing (not very common)
- Anal and vaginal intercourse
- Oral sex
The early stages of the infection are the highly contagious phase of the disease. The liquid from the chancres or ulcers that oozes fluid is very virulent. The latent stage of the disease is also the non-infectious stage. Latent stage untreated syphilis can lie dormant for many years or for a person’s lifetime, but could be transmitted to a fetus from an infected mother.
Syphilis can be prevented by abstaining from sex.
If you like to engage in anal or vaginal intercourse, just remember to use latex or female condoms to all sexual activity. Condoms or latex should also be used when performing oral sex. This safe sex practice lowers your risk of acquiring the infection.