What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacterial infection. It is usually contracted during sexual intercourse. If not treated, this STD can cause long-term complications. In its early stages, syphilis can be treated easily.
This infection progresses through several stages. When syphilis gets to its later stages, it becomes hard to treat it and it can be very dangerous to the body. The syphilis infection can be passed during unprotected sex with an infected person, which can be sexual oral or anal. The infection can also be passed from mother to the fetus during pregnancy.
Learn more about syphilis from the CDC.
Signs and symptoms of syphilis
The first sign of syphilis is the appearance of a single sore. One or more sores may appear at the location where syphilis entered the body. These sores are usually firm, round and painless, so it is easy for them to go unnoticed. The sore will heal — whether or not the person is treated.
If the person infected is not treated at this point, the infection will progress to the next stage.
During the secondary stage, the common symptoms include skin rashes and sores. Rashes may begin appearing at the same time as the sores, or several weeks after the sores have healed. Rashes may be noticeable or very faint. Some people also experience headaches, weight loss, muscle aches or fever, among other symptoms.
If the disease is still untreated, it will progress into the late and latent stages. People can show signs of late syphilis up to 30 years after infection. Symptoms of the late stage include numbness, gradual blindness, difficulty coordinating muscle movements and dementia. The disease damages the internal organs and can result in death.
You can help prevent being infected with syphilis by using condoms to reduce the risk. There is still a risk of contraction. Abstaining from sexual contact is the safest way to prevent being infected. If you have one partner, make sure that both of you are tested for syphilis and other STDs. Talk to your partner about testing to make sure each of you are protected. If you’re ready to get tested with your partner, find an ARCpoint Labs location near you.