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Frequently Asked Questions About Syphilis

What is Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection, STI, caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum. It is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). There are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage.

How is it transmitted

The most prevalent mode of transmission is through vaginal sex, oral or anal sex or through sharing sex toys with infected persons. It can be transmitted through both heterosexual and homosexual contact.

What are the symptoms

Syphilis develops in the human body in several stages.

Stage one (primary Syphilis)

At this stage, the infected person experiences mild symptoms that may include painless and highly infectious sores around the genitals and sometimes around the mouth. If an uninfected individual comes into contact with the sores typically during sexual intercourse, they also get infected with Syphilis. The sores may last up to six weeks before disappearing.

Stage two (secondary Syphilis)

More severe symptoms start manifesting. They include skin rash and sore throat. The occurrence of such symptoms can also be caused by other pathogens and not necessarily Syphilis. These symptoms may last for several weeks before disappearing for a long time that could be in years. Then disease then progresses to the third stage that is more severe.

Stage three (tertiary Syphilis)

About a third of patients who go untreated for Syphilis develop stage 3 Syphilis. At this stage, the bacterium is more detrimental and can cause real havoc to your body.

How is it treated

Syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics from your health care provider. Treatment can involve administration of antibiotics in the form of penicillin injections. 

How can I prevent

Just like other infectious diseases, the only sure way to prevent Syphilis is by avoiding sexual contact with infected persons.

One can, however, reduce the risk of infection by:

  • Use of male or female condoms during any act of sexual encounter.

  • Avoiding sharing of sex toys.

  • Performing safe oral sex by use of a dental dam.

What to do if diagnosed

If you are in doubt with your sex partner, and you suspect you have Syphilis, it's important to visit a health clinic to have the test performed on you. The severity of the diseases is usually lower when the symptoms are treated at an early stage.