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Syphilis

Quick Fact: If left untreated Syphilis can reappear 10-30 years after infection began.

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria.

How can I get it?

Syphilis is passed through direct contact with sores (called chancers).  Other symptoms of syphilis are rashes developing anywhere on the body as well as flu-like symptoms.

Syphilis can be spread by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or by kissing someone who has a syphilis sore on their mouth. When sores are present syphilis is VERY contagious !

How do I know that I have Syphilis?

The signs of syphilis can be so mild that a person might not notice them.  The first sign is a painless sore (chancre).  This sore can show up on or near the vagina, penis, mouth, or anus.  These sores will heal even if not treated, but unless treated a person still has syphilis even if sores have healed.

Can you get rid of syphilis?

YES. Syphilis is treated with a antibiotics.  To keep from infecting your partners, you should avoid sex until you have taken all the antibiotics and your partner has been tested and treated if necessary.

How can you protect yourself from getting syphilis?

If sexually active, condoms can reduce the risk of of passing syphilis to a partner during vaginal, anal or oral sex.  Since syphilis can be passed by touching the sores (chancres), which might not be covered by a condom, condoms aren’t 100% effective.

Dental dams can be used as a barrier oral sex between mouth and vulva.

For protection against syphilis during any type of anal ex ( rimming, penetration, etc) , you can use a female condom.

What happens if I don’t get treated?

Syphilis can be VERY dangerous if not treated. If left untreated, late stage syphilis can cause brain damage, paralysis, heart disease, and death. Having untreated syphilis increases the chances of getting HIV since HIV can enter the body more easily through the syphilis sores.

If a woman is pregnant and has untreated syphilis, the baby is in danger of major birth defects or death.

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Help page.