Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection, a really common one in fact, however still not easily detected by the naked eye. Syphilis is sneaky, because you or your partner may not have any symptoms that you see or feel. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they have syphilis — that’s part of the reason it’s a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested) and the only way to treat syphilis is by antibiotics, such as penicillin.
Syphilis is on the rise in multiple parts of the world. Cases of syphilis in England have more than doubled over the past decade (from 2,847 in 2009 to 7,541 in 2018), PHE said. Syphilis continues to make an alarming comeback in the United States too, as reported earlier this year by The New York Times. Between 2012 and 2016, the rate of the first and second stage of syphilis among American women increased by 111%.
How does syphilis spread?
Any sexually active person can get syphilis through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can infect your vagina, anus, penis, or scrotum, and sometimes your lips and mouth.
You can help prevent syphilis by using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex. It may not be obvious that a sex partner has syphilis. This is because syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth.
Syphilis isn’t spread through casual contact, so you CAN’T get it from sharing food or drinks, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, sharing towels, or sitting on toilet seats.
Moreover, having syphilis once does not protect you from getting it again. Even after you’ve been successfully treated, you can still be re-infected. Only laboratory tests can confirm whether you have syphilis. Follow-up testing with our doctor is recommended to make sure that your treatment was successful.
What are the symptoms of syphilis?
Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary), with different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. A person with primary syphilis generally has a sore or sores at the original site of infection. These sores usually occur on or around the genitals, around the anus or in the rectum, or in or around the mouth. These sores are usually (but not always) firm, round, and painless. Symptoms of secondary syphilis include skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. The signs and symptoms of primary and secondary syphilis can be mild, and they might not be noticed. During the latent stage, there are no signs or symptoms. Tertiary syphilis is associated with severe medical problems. A doctor can usually diagnose tertiary syphilis with the help of multiple tests. It can affect the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.
How to prevent syphilis?
Prevention is always better than cure, if you are sexually active, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from this infection:
· Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for syphilis and does not have syphilis.
· Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. Condoms prevent transmission of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore. Sometimes sores occur in areas not covered by a condom. Contact with these sores can still transmit syphilis.
However, none of the ways can prevent or provide protection from syphilis a hundred percent.
You should get tested regularly for syphilis if you are sexually active and
· are a man who has sex with men
· are living with HIV
· have partner(s) who have tested positive for syphilis.
· are pregnant with a baby
Syphilis is a common infection and can go undetected for a long time, it is treatable but can get harder to treat in the later stages and the damage done to the body will not be reversed. Hence, always be tested regularly to be sure you are free of syphilis and even if you have tested positive, not to worry because our doctor can provide treatment to cure this infection