Syphilis is a serious disease, known from ancient times, caused by a bacteria, Treponema pallidum. This disease is also know as the “lues”.
It is a highly contagious disease, discreet and benign in the beginning, evolving slowly yet inexorably over the following years towards death. You can have syphilis without knowing it and pass it on to others.
HOW DOES THE SYPHILIS MANIFEST?
Syphilis has three stages. About three weeks after the contaminated sexual relationship, there may appear a slight sore on the vulva or the uterus. This sore may appear around or in the vagina, on the penis, or inside the mouth or anus.
Sores inside the vagina or anus are often unnoticed and may disappear on their own if not treated, but the bacterial infection remains.
During this first stage, a painless sore may appear at the spot where the bacteria first entered the body (usually from 10 to 90 days after sexual contact with an infected person).
The second stage occurs from 3 weeks to 3 months after the first one, and includes flu-like symptoms and possible hair loss. Some people experience a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as well as over the entire body.
Although extremely rare, the third stage syphilis can appear 3 to 10 years or more after the first and second stages.
Symptoms of this third and severe stage include skin lesions, mental deterioration (i.e. even insanity), loss of balance and vision, loss of sensation, pains in the legs, and heart disease. However, these severe forms are exceptional today in the civilized countries.
HOW DO WE DETECT SYPHILIS?
If there is a chance that you have been exposed to syphilis, see a doctor as soon as possible. A simple blood test can usually determine whether or not you have the disease.
The presence of the anticorps in the blood is a clear indication of the infection. However, if you become infected 2 to 3 weeks prior to testing, the blood test might not be sensitive enough to pick it up.
During the long interval in which the disease stays tranquil, undisturbed, the blood analysis no longer indicates the trace of the anticorps in the blood, although the infection persists.
The testing for this disease is mainly indicated for:
– military service
– prenuptial exams
– the first exams in cases of pregnancy
Syphilis is a serious disease for the fetus, as the infection will pass through the placenta, infecting the baby during the fourth and a half month of pregnancy, the result being either an abortion, or the infection of the baby, who is going to be born with congenial syphilis.
HOW DO WE TREAT SYPHILIS?
Syphilis can be easily treated with proper antibiotics, the most common of which are penicillin injections, intramuscular for 15 days. If the infection is detected in due time, it is going to be cured 100%. The treatment began in the later stages will need longer time to be done, but the recovery is also 100%.
HOW DO WE PREVENT SYPHILIS?
One can get and spread syphilis through oral, anal, and/or vaginal sex. Preventing syphilis means approaching sexual relationships responsibly and this,ultimately, means preventing any STD: limiting the number of one’s sex partners, using condoms, and avoiding any sexual contact if one suspects being infected. One should also visit a local STD clinic, hospital, or doctor. Be sure your partner is treated to avoid becoming reinfected.