What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that affects both men and women. It is caused by a bacteria. It is quite a complicated sexually transmitted infection and can cause a lot of different symptoms.
Syphilis infections are on the rise again in Scotland.
How do I know I’ve got it?
You may have no symptoms, getting regular sexual health screen check-ups is therefore important.
Early syphilis is easy to miss if you don’t have any obvious symptoms. However you may develop an ulcer, get a rash all over your body or feel like you have the flu (high temperature, muscle aches).
For doctors and nurses, syphilis can be easily missed too because it can look like lots of other conditions. You need to make sure you get a blood test to test for syphilis. It can sometimes take 3 months for the blood test to become positive after you have been in contact with someone with Syphilis.
How do you get it?
- Syphilis can be hard to spot and is one of the most easily caught sexually transmitted infections
- You can get it from oral sex or genital to genital contact with someone who has syphilis
- It can also be passed on from mother to baby
Where can I get tested?
- Your GP
- Sexual Health clinic
What is the treatment?
Antibiotics will get rid of the infection.
Treating sexual partners
It is essential that your sexual partner(s) are tested and treated if necessary. You can discuss this with the health adviser in the clinic who can help you tell/talk to your partner.
What if I don’t get treated?
- Without treatment syphilis can cause serious long-term health problems, and can damage many parts of your body including your skin, bones and heart. This can take 20 years or more
- Syphilis can also be passed on to future partners if left untreated
- Syphilis can also be passed from mother to baby. This is why all pregnant women in the UK are offered testing for syphilis when they are pregnant. Syphilis can be treated successfully during pregnancy. If syphilis is left untreated during pregnancy it can cause serious birth defects, miscarriages or stillbirths
How do I avoid getting Syphilis again?
The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections is to practice safer sex. This means using a condom for vaginal, oral or anal sex.