Syphilis

Syphilis is a serious STI that is caused by a bacterium. It causes little sores at first, but the disease spreads throughout the entire body via the bloodstream.

What is it?

The syphilis bacteria lodge themselves in the vagina, penis or anus and sometimes the mouth. You get it from unprotected fucking, blow jobs or cunnilingus. Untreated, the bacteria spread through the body via the blood. The stage of the disease is diagnosed from your symptoms and a blood test. This has an impact on treatment, tests and notifying partners. Syphilis can have serious consequences.

Symptoms

  • Little sores and warts in and on the genitals, anus or mouth
  • A rash over the whole body, particularly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Flu, headache, sore throat, fatigue
  • Hair loss, bald patches on the scalp
  • Eye problems, eyeball inflammation, loss of vision
  • Long term: damage to the heart, brain, spinal cord and bones

Have I got it?

Syphilis is diagnosed through a blood or smear test.

Development

Two to twelve weeks after syphilis infection, little sores appear. These are up to one centimetre in size, feel hard and are usually painless. If the sores are in your mouth, anus or vagina you often do not notice them. You sometimes develop a skin rash. Lymph glands become swollen. Two to three weeks later the sores and the rash disappear, but the disease is still there. Several weeks to months later, the bacteria spread throughout the body via the blood.

Treatment

Syphilis is diagnosed through a blood or smear test. The bacteria are treated with an antibiotic administered through injection by a doctor. You need to return after one or two years for tests. You should not have sex during treatment, otherwise you and your partner will infect each other again. Use a condom in any case.

Advice

  • Go to a doctor for treatment as soon as possible
  • Get tested for HIV and other STIs
  • Do not have sex during the treatment
  • Notify all sexual partners since getting infected
  • If there were no clear symptoms before diagnosis, have your regular partner and any children tested
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