November 18, 2022

What is Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STI), that could cause lead to serious health issues, if left untreated. Syphilis infection develops in various stages, and each stage can have different symptoms and signs.

One can get syphilis by coming in direct contact with a syphilis sore, during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It can also spread from mother to the unborn child. One of the major misconceptions regarding syphilis is that it can be caused by coming in close contact with objects like doorknobs, toilet seats, hot tubs, swimming pools bathtubs, eating utensils and clothes- however, none of these can cause spread of syphilis.

Syphilis Symptoms

Symptoms of syphilis are usually hard to detect, and most of the people are not aware that they have syphilis. It is one of the reasons that the infection is very common, and spreads without the partners knowing about it. Even if the symptoms show, they are sometimes so mild that the patients confuse them for rash or pimple. These signs can come and go, and the only way to detect and treat is to get tested and take medicines. If not treated early, syphilis can cause serious problems, and hence it is essential to get STD testing done on regular basis (if you are sexually active)

Here are the symptoms of syphilis, according to different stages

  • Primary Stage Syphilis Symptoms

A chancre, or syphilis sore would appear at the point where infection entered the body. It is usually round, firm, and painless, but sometimes it can be wet and open as well. The sore can appear at anus, scrotum, penis, vulva, vagina and very rarely on mount or lips. This sore might also hide under the foreskin, inside the rectum, deep in vagina or other places that are hard to notice. As the sore is painless and live in hidden places, it can easily go unnoticed. It shows around 3 weeks to 3 months after getting the infection, and last 3-6 weeks before going away on its own.

  • Secondary Stage Syphilis Symptoms

Rashes on soles of feet, palms of hand and other parts of the body are the major symptoms of secondary stage syphilis. The rash doesn’t itch and is hard to see. Mild flu-like symptoms might also be there, including sore throat, feeling tired, having slight fever, muscle ache, headache, and swollen glands. Sore in vagina, anus, mouth, combined with hair and weight loss are also some of the symptoms. The symptoms can go on from 2-6 weeks at a time.

  • Last Stage Syphilis Symptoms

In between secondary and late stage, the symptoms might be latent- which means there would be no symptoms at all for months or maybe years. However, the disease would not be cured, and treatment would be required to get rid of it. Patients who have syphilis for long times can face serious health issues, including blindness, tumors, paralysis, damage to brain, nervous system, and other organs, and in extreme cases, even death.

It is often asked, what is the difference between syphilis symptoms men and syphilis symptoms in females? Can syphilis be cured? The answer is- syphilis symptoms men and syphilis symptoms in females are the same, and both required medical attention to be cured properly.

Diagnosis for Syphilis

Syphilis can be diagnosed by testing the samples of

Blood– blood test confirms the presence of antibodies that is produced by body to fight infection. Antibodies against syphilis causing bacteria can stay in body for years and can be tested to diagnose current or past infection. These tests usually include various EIAs, TP-PA, immunoblots chemiluminescence immunoassays, and rapid treponemal assays.

Cerebrospinal fluid– in case the healthcare professional suspense nervous system complications of syphilis, they might suggest collection and testing of cerebrospinal fluid, using lumbar puncture.

Syphilis Treatment

Can syphilis be cured? The answer is yes, with the right syphilis treatment, it can be completely cured. Early diagnosis ensures easy treatment of syphilis and penicillin is the most used and preferred antibiotic medicine for syphilis treatment- it kills the organism causing syphilis.

Recommended syphilis treatment, for all stages, is a single injection of penicillin. If the patient has syphilis for more than a year, additional dose might be required. Penicillin can be used by pregnant women as well, however, the newborn should be tested for congenital syphilis upon birth, and treated with antibiotics, if required.

Prevention of Syphilis

There is no vaccine available for prevention, and the following suggestion should be followed to avoid syphilis:

Monogamy or abstinence – the only way to prevent syphilis is to either avoid having sex (abstinence), or to have mutually monogamous sex, where both partners have sex only with each other and none of them is infected.

Using latex condom– if the condom covers syphilis sore, it will reduce risk of contracting syphilis.

Avoiding recreational drugs– overuse of drugs and alcohol can inhibit judgement, and lead to unsafe sexual practices that might cause you to contract syphilis.

Al Hilal Hospital Bahrain, Department of Urology

To get tested and treated for syphilis, you need to consult Urologist, at the earliest. At Al Hilal Hospital Bahrain, Department of Urology, we have both male and female urologists, modern testing facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories, and professional staff, to provide ideal healthcare services to all the patients. Contact Al Hilal Hospital today and get consultation with leading Urologist in Bahrain, for early detection and treatment of syphilis and other diseases.