Syphilis is a bacterial infection contracted during sex: vaginal, anal or oral.
In the UK, Syphilis is relatively rare. However, it is a very serious illness and the numbers of cases diagnosed in both men and women has increased in recent years.
The condition is especially dangerous in pregnant women where infection can cause miscarriage, still birth, or foetal abnormality.
How do you get Syphilis?
Anyone who has sex can get Syphilis. You are at risk if you have unprotected sex (i.e. not using a condom), are having regular sex with more than one partner, and or change partners frequently.
How Do I Know if I Have Syphilis?
Syphilis symptoms are not specific - this is why it is very important to get tested regularly if you think you are at risk of having contracted the infection. You are at risk if you have unprotected sex (i.e. not using a condom), are having regular sex with more than one partner, and or change partners frequently.
The illness usually begins with one or more painless but highly infectious sores. This is known as the primary infection. These sores can appear anywhere on the body and although they may clear up on their own (in two to six weeks), this does not mean you no longer have Syphilis.
The secondary stage of infection can develop six weeks to six months after the onset of the primary infection. Later symptoms are highly variable but can flu-like symptoms such as fever and/or further sores and/or wart-like growths. A clear sign of Syphilis are rashes on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet.
Late syphilis occurs four or more years after untreated primary and secondary infections. Complications may occur with the heart, respiratory tract or central nervous system.
Do you have Symptoms?
If you have symptoms you should get yourself tested to avoid infection developing and from transferring it to someone else.