Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria that’s passed on through unprotected sex. It’s one of the most serious STIs you can get and can cause life-changing health problems if left untreated.

Our doctors can help you catch syphilis early and arrange a course of prescription medication, so that you can treat the infection before it does any lasting damage.

Syphilis is an STI that can have very serious health consequences if left untreated.

It’s a bacterial infection that can spread to other parts of your body over time and do irreversible damage, so it’s really important to catch it early and get the necessary treatment.

Like many STIs, it doesn’t always cause symptoms, so you may not even know you have it. If you’ve had unprotected sex, it’s worth checking to see if you have syphilis.

While syphilis doesn’t always cause symptoms, you’ll almost certainly notice if it does. The symptoms of syphilis are broken down into three stages.

Stage 1 (primary syphilis) occurs within two to three weeks of infection. The main symptom here is a small sore, usually located on the penis, vagina or anus. Most people only get one. You may also get swollen glands.

Stage 2 (secondary syphilis) follows a weeks after primary symptoms. At this point, you may notice:

  • A red rash, often on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands
  • Skin growths similar to genital warts
  • White patches inside your mouth
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Flu-like symptoms

Stage 3 (tertiary syphilis) can sometimes not occur for years, or even decades after secondary symptoms. They occur when the infection spreads to other parts of your body. This is the most serious stage of syphilis.

Symptoms of tertiary syphilis can include:

  • Meningitis
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Co-ordination problems
  • Partial or total blindness
  • Numbness in your extremities
  • Heart problems

Syphilis can still be treated at this point, but it’s important to know that any damage may already be irreversible.

As syphilis is a bacterial infection, in most cases it can be effectively treated with a course of antibiotics. This is normally given as an injection, but it’s possible to have tablets in some cases.

Our doctors can refer you for tests if needed and you should let them know if you’re nervous about needles.

How many doses you need, and how often, will depend on how long you’ve had syphilis. Those who’ve had it for longer will require a more intensive treatment plan.

You should obviously avoid unprotected sex during your treatment and for two weeks after it’s over, even if your symptoms appear to have passed.

As with most STIs, syphilis is spread by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. In this case, the infection is passed on by coming into contact with an infected syphilis sore.

You’re more likely to pass syphilis on within the first two years after infection.

If you get syphilis while you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to get treatment straight away.

Syphilis poses a serious risk to the health of your unborn baby. They could be left with congenital syphilis, which will have a serious impact on their long term health. Miscarriage and stillbirth are also more likely.