Syphilis, now here’s an STI that isn’t so common anymore – thanks to antibiotics. That doesn’t mean you should dismiss it though!
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria called Treponema Pallidum. This bacteria can spread through skin-to-skin contact, vaginal fluids and from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth.
How will I know if I have it?
Syphilis usually starts with a painless ulcer on the vulva or penis, but sometimes the ulcer can be hidden internally on the vaginal walls or cervix. If you have an internal ulcer, it’s highly unlikely you will ever find out you have it, especially because it doesn’t cause any pain.
This painless ulcer can stay there for 3 to 12 weeks, then it will slowly heal and disappear. It is interesting to note that it will disappear whether you receive treatment or not! After that happens, you won’t be able to tell you have Syphilis without a test.
Even if the ulcer is gone, you can still pass the infection on to someone else.
Did you know?
Having Syphilis can increase your risk of getting HIV 2-5 times, and makes passing on HIV so much easier.
The reason why we worry so much about leaving Syphilis untreated is because of the complications. Syphilis can cause damage the heart, the kidneys and the brain if left untreated for many years when it progresses to different stages of severity. These stages are: Secondary Syphilis, Latent Syphilis and Tertiary Syphilis.
How do I protect myself from Syphilis?
Syphilis is spread from skin-to-skin contact, vaginal fluids and semen. This means that you need to use barrier methods such as dental dams, gloves and condoms to protect yourself and your sex toys.
If you would like to know more about how to protect yourself from Syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, you’re in luck! I have created a Mini eBook called The Ultimate Guide to Safe Sex for Women Who Love Women. AND I’m giving it away ABSOLUTELY FREE for a limited time only!
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How do we test for Syphilis?
In order to test for Syphilis, all we need to do is a simple blood test. A blood sample is taken and sent for tests called RPR (Rapid Plasma Reagin) and TPHA (T. Pallidum Haemagglutination).
What is the treatment for Syphilis?
There are a few different ways to treat Syphilis. One option is to get an intramuscular injection of Benzathine Penicillin. The other option (for those wanting to avoid needles) is to take oral Doxycycline tablets for a few weeks. All in all, simple and easy to treat!
Take home message
Syphilis isn’t as common as it used to be, but it’s still going to be around for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that women CAN spread it to other women, it’s not something that is limited to heterosexual couples.
The good news is that is really easy to test for and completely curable.
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Disclaimer: This blog contains my opinions and doesn’t reflect the opinions of the Department of Health of South Africa or The Southern African Sexual Health Association. All information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but it’s possible that there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. While I am a qualified medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. The information presented on this blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as professional medical advice. If you rely on any information presented, it’s at your own risk. Please consult a professional before taking any sort of action. I reserve the right to manage this blog as I see fit, including the right to remove harmful or unhelpful comments.