What is Syphilis?

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), is caused by Treponema pallidum, a transmittable bacterium which causes diseases. This bacterium is only transmitted during close contact with infected sores. Although syphilis is currently much less common than the other STDs, it can have severe effects if left untreated. Pregnant women can pass syphilis on to their unborn foetuses.

Syphilis develops in stages:

  • Primary: Vaginal/penile sores/ulcers, which last for about 2 weeks. These may be painless. At this point, the infection can be treated and cured with medicine.
  • Secondary: Swollen lymph nodes, fever, a sore throat/skin rash, headaches. These symptoms will then disappear, but the infection will worsen.
  • Latent: The symptoms  “hide”, sometimes for many years, and without any further ones developing (Latent Syphilis development)
  • Tertiary: This is the serious infection phase, involving nerve damage and memory loss.

A simple swab (taken from an ulcer) or blood test will identify syphilis. Early diagnosis leads to treatment which is straightforward (a course of antibiotics). This prevents the infection from developing any further. A syphilis consultation with your IPSA Medical doctor would entail:

  • A sexual history review
  • A personal STI risk assessment
  • An examination of the sores/ulcers that have appeared recently

Syphilis Testing: £120

When should I get tested?

It is particularly important to get tested if:

  • You experience any symptoms.
  • Your current sexual partner or a previous sexual partner has been diagnosed with syphilis.
  • You have had sex without a condom and had multiple sexual partners.
  • You have had an STD in the past.

What happens in treatment?

More often than not, syphilis can be cured over a course of antibiotics.
Treatment depends on how long you have had the disease, and to be prescribed medicine, you will need to be tested.

Who should I tell?

If you have been diagnosed with syphilis, it’s imperative that you tell your current and previous sexual partners so that they can be tested, too. Leaving an infection can lead to high-risk issues including (but not limited to) infertility.

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It can often be quite difficult to book an appointment with your NHS GP at a time that suits you. Your symptoms might have already faded, or you might have recovered by the time of your NHS GP appoin

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