Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The bacteria Treponema pallidum makes its way into the skin of sexual organs or the mouth through skin to skin sexual contact.
Most syphilis cases occur in men who have sex with men or men who have sex with both men and women. Though syphilis can escalate quickly if left untreated, it is completely curable with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor’s office.
How to Test for Syphilis
Syphilis testing can be done even if you don’t have any symptoms. Lots of people don’t know they have syphilis because they are either asymptomatic or aren’t bothered by the sores that syphilis causes. Syphilis testing is typically done by blood draw, however open sores can be swabbed for fluid as well.
Syphilis can be spread through any sort of:
- Sexual intercourse that can affect areas including the vagina, penis, anus, scrotum, lips, and mouth
- Skin to skin contact spreads syphilis - when your vagina, vulva, anus, penis, scrotum, or mouth touches someone’s syphilis sores
- Syphilis can also be transmitted from mother to child during delivery
- Vaginal, anal, and oral sex can all spread syphilis, though vaginal and anal are more likely than oral
Once someone has syphilis, they will experience different levels of symptoms depending on how long they’ve had it. Sometimes people stay symptom free, or asymptomatic, for a long period of time.
The primary stage includes syphilis sores called chancres that form on any part of the body that has had contact with someone else’s chancre. Often, these are in places that are difficult to see. These sores go away whether you get treated or not, but if you’re untreated, you still have the infection.
Rashes on the hands and feet are equated with secondary stage syphilis. Again, these can last for a long period of time or a very short period of time. Regardless of whether they go away without treatment, if you have not had the proper course of antibiotics, you still have a syphilis infection.
There may be no symptoms associated with late stage syphilis, but eventually the infection can affect eyesight and internal organs.
Syphilis treatment involves an antibiotic, typically penicillin, and is completely curable. The sooner you can get treated with a syphilis cure, the faster the infection will clear up.
Your doctor will recommend a certain number of antibiotic pills or shots as a syphilis cure depending on your particular infection. Syphilis treatment can be done multiple times if you contract an infection more than once in your life.
Syphilis is easily prevented by using condoms when you have vaginal or anal intercourse and dental dams when you have oral sex.
The physical barrier prevents syphilis bacteria from entering your body or from transferring to someone else’s body. You can also get a free syphilis test periodically to ensure that you stay syphilis free.
Come See Us
The Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) in Naples, Florida is a free, nonprofit clinic full of resources for both men and women. The clinic offers absolutely free syphilis tests among a multitude of other free STI tests like: genital herpes testing, gonorrhea testing, chlamydia testing and more.
We also help to treat some of the STIs. For more information, give us a call at 239-280-5523 for our Naples branch or 239-317-0015 for our Estero branch or make an online appointment for a free syphilis test.