Syphilis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention


Many people have Syphilis but they don’t know. They keep spreading this dangerous Sexually Transmitted Infection until a lot of harm is done. We’re seeing more cases in the clinic lately so I’m sharing this because I do not want you to be a victim.

Table of Content

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). That means you get it mainly from having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex!.
That is why the disease is spreading most rapidly among our sexually active ladies & gentlemen.

Can Syphilis be spread only through sex?

No. The fact that the disease is a sexually transmitted disease does not mean that it is only gotten through sex. Sex accounts for over 90% of its transmission, but there are other ways that a person can contact syphilis such as;

-from infected mother to her unborn child inside the womb.
-through blood transfusion, &
-through breaks in the skin that come into contact with infectious lesions e.g. kissing a person with an infected mouth wound when you have a wound in your mouth!

an Ulcer in the mouth due to syphilis

What Causes Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by a bacteria, a tiny spiral germ known as Treponema palladium.

Stages of Syphilis

The signs & symptoms manifested will depend on the stage of the disease, which can be;
– primary
– secondary
– latent, or
– tertiary

An infected person will likely go through these stages if no treatment is given.

Symptoms of Syphilis

The symptoms of Syphilis are very similar to those of many other viral diseases (like herpes). That’s why it may be so difficult for you to know you have syphilis. In fact, the syphilis has been dubbed “The Great Imitator” because it’s symptoms can mimic those of many other diseases!

Primary Syphilis: The Primary stage often presents with a single, firm, painless, non-itchy wound called Chancre. This is usually on the site where you got the infection, e.g. in your penis, vulva or mouth. It’s about 1 to 2cm wide. Also, there may be multiple sores & even hair loss (medically known as alopecia).

A painless wound on the penis caused by syphilis.

Secondary syphilis: In this stage, you have a rash, often in your palms & soles. It is very itchy. Some broad based elevated plagues (called Condylomata lata) may also occur.
In fact, there may be sores all over your mouth, vagina or penis.

Latent syphilis: Over time, Syphilis becomes latent. In Latent syphilis there are few or no symptoms & this can last for years. The organism is just in your body resting without causing any problems that you can see.
Sadly, people with latent syphilis can still spread the disease if they have unprotected sex!. Know that spread during latent phase is quite common!
So beware!

Tertiary Syphilis: This is the final stage of the disease. In this stage, there are are soft, non-cancerous growths called gummas. Which ever organ that this affects determines the symptoms that you would have.

If these gummas grow In your;

  • Brain or nerves: you would have what is called Neurosyphilis. This simply means a Syphilis infection of the brain. It can cause a number of neurological symptoms ranging from visual to coordination problems.
  • Heart: can cause Heart failure.
  • Bone: would lead to Destructive bone disease.
  • Liver: would cause the development of Hepatitis
    And so on!

In fact, Neurosyphilis can make you have frequent headaches, numbness in your toes & feet, confusion, depression, inability to walk well & poor sleep. You might even become blind & lack the ability to control your urination like a little baby, all because of syphilis.

Syphilis and Fertility

In males, syphilis can infect the tube that carries sperm from your testis outside. If this (Syphilitic Epididymitis) occurs, your sperm tube might become swollen & blocked. It can cause infertility.

Syphilis can affect many other systems & organs if not treated.

Can Syphilis be Cured?

Yes, there is a cure for syphilis.

Treatment for Syphilis

The disease can be treated with penicillins at the right doses. You should see your doctor to have your Syphilis treated. Also, you must ensure that your sexual partner(s) is/are also treated!. Otherwise you can be infected again & again. So make sure you carry your partner along!

Prevention of Syphilis

Start preventing syphilis today by practicing Safe Sex:

  • Use condoms.
  • Don’t share your sex toys or needles.
  • Use latex dental dam or condoms in oral sex.
  • Screen for STIs & discuss results with your partner. If infected, see your doctor!

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Feel free to ask your questions through the comment section below and i would try to answer you as soon as possible.


  • Ozoemena Davidson attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in ituku-ozalla, Enugu state, Nigeria.

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