Frequently Asked Questions about Syphilis

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is an infection that is primarily transmitted by having sex with infected persons. It is caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum.

How is Syphilis transmitted?

The most prevalent mode of transmission is through vaginal sex, oral or anal sex or through sharing sex toys with infected persons. Pregnant women can, however, transmit the disease to the unborn baby in the womb. It is also possible to contract the disease through blood stains either by using contaminated objects such as needles or Lazar blades or by coming into contact with infected blood. One can also catch the disease by coming into contact with an infected sore. It is, however, rare to get infected by Syphilis through the blood transfusion as blood is thoroughly screened for the disease before transfusion.

What are the stages of disease transmission?

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.

What happens if Syphilis goes untreated?

Syphilis that is in the tertiary stage can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes, liver, joints and bones. In severe cases, an individual can lose the ability to coordinate muscle movements; it can cause numbness, paralysis, mental illness gradual blindness and even death. Syphilis also results in stillbirth and miscarriages in pregnant women.

How is Syphilis diagnosed?

Diagnosis of Syphilis involves a simple blood test that confirms the presence of antibodies produced to fight the infection.

What to if diagnosed positive of Syphilis?

If you are in doubt with your sex partner, and you suspect you have Syphilis, it is important to visit reproductive 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.

Is there treatment for Syphilis?

Yes, Syphilis can be treated. The treatment involves administration of antibiotics mostly penicillin injections. It is, however, important to treat the disease early before it causes serious effects to the body.

How can I prevent Syphilis?

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.