Looking to get tested? See the At Home Syphilis Test
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that’s caused by a kind of bacteria. You won’t know if you have this STI until you take a syphilis test.
While you might not think you know anyone with this STI, the U.S. documented 88,000 cases of syphilis in 2016. It seems that more men are getting infected with syphilis by the day, particularly homosexual and bixsexual men. Women who have syphilis are on the decline.
Many men who have syphilis don’t know for a few years if they haven’t been tested.
Noticing a sore around your genitals, rectum, or mouth might be an early sign that you have this disease, a syphilis test is needed in order for you to have the facts.
The problem with syphilis is that diagnosis it can be very challenging. When the disease remains untreated for a long time, it could cause tremendous damage to the brain and heart.
Once detected, your doctor can treat syphilis with medication. But it’s possible to contract this STI again.
How Can I Contract Syphilis?
Although any sexually active person can get syphilis, it’s transferred through direct contact with a sore. That could be through vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. Using condoms correctly reduce the risk of syphilis if the condom covers the sores. If your skin is in direct contact with an infected partner’s sore, you’re at risk.
The sore may appear on the rectum, the sexual organs, or inside the mouth. But many people never really notice this sore and get tested for syphilis.
Infection with syphilis occurs in four stages namely:
The first two stages are the most infectious. Keep in mind, when syphilis is in its latent stage, the disease is still active but it doesn’t usually show symptoms. Not everyone reaches the tertiary stage but it could show up 30 years after you were infected, causing blindness, paralysis, dementia, and even death. Why not get a syphilis test right now and know your status rather than wait a few decades to see what happens.
We’ll break the syphilis stages and symptoms down here:
This usually occurs within a month after the person has been infected. You’ll notice a small, round sore, known as a chancre. It doesn’t cause pain but it’s very infectious. It may also show up between 10 and 90 days. Transmission of syphilis to another partner is when they come in contact with this sore and contract syphilis during any type of touching and sex.
The second stage turns into a sore throat and rashes. The rash usually shows up on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands. However, that doesn’t stop it from manifesting elsewhere. Other symptoms that are characteristic of secondary syphilis include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever and fatigue
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Achy joints
These symptoms don’t last for long. By the time you get an appointment with your doctor, these secondary syphilis symptoms may have disappeared, or be mistaken for another condition. That’s why you need to do a syphilis test early.
This is the third stage of syphilis and it’s also called the “hidden stage.” At this stage, you won’t notice symptoms. Keep in mind, the bacteria is still in your body. This stage may last for a number of years before it progresses to tertiary syphilis. In that final stage, syphilis attacks your brain, blood vessels, and nervous system causing those horrible issues mentioned above.
Keep in mind that HIV is a big risk factor for syphilis patients. Many men who have been diagnosed with HIV also have syphilis. This might be because the sores make it easy for HIV to get into the body. You should also note that syphilis patients with HIV infection might have symptoms different from syphilis patients without HIV. If you have HIV, and think you have syphilis, take a syphilis test, and give your primary physician a call about the results.
Know that you can’t get syphilis by sharing a toilet with someone who has it, hugging, or eating from someone’s fork that has the STI.
Where Can I Take a Syphilis Test?
All pregnant women are usually tested for syphilis during their first prenatal visit. You could call up your doctor and ask for a syphilis test, or, you could simply order one online and screen for this infection at home. Using myLAB Box to test for syphilis, you’ll send a small blood sample off to our labs where they’ll run the blood through to screen for this STI.
What Happens if My Syphilis Test Comes Back Positive?
Your syphilis test will come back saying it’s either positive (reactive) or negative (non-reactive). Keep in mind that a positive diagnosis cannot be established until a TP-PA confirmation test is run, testing serum and differentiating syphilis from other conditions.
You can use our free telemedicine physicians to speak to if you get a syphilis test with a positive result. They’ll help you find a doctor near you for further testing and treatment.
Syphilis is curable and can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, if you wait too long to find out you have syphilis, treatment won’t undo damage that the infection has already done on your body. Treating syphilis is more about alleviating symptoms and making you more comfortable.
If your syphilis test was positive, let your partner know right away so that they can take a test and seek out treatment.
- Ingram, Brooke. (2016). The Many Presentations of Syphilis. Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.
- Merson, Joshua R. MS, PA-C; Shehu, Mimoza MS, PA-C. (2019). Syphilis. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
- Patrick French. (2007). Syphilis. BMJ.
- Lupande Mwenebitu David, Busa Mabaya Gael, Pululu Christian, Mukuku Olivier, Phoba Marie-France and Lunguya Metila Octavie. (2018). Risk Factors of the Transmission of the HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis among Blood Donors at the Saint Luc General Hospital of Kisantu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of HIV & Retro Virus.
- Ralph V Katz, Amos E Katz, Rueben C Warren, Monnica T Williams, Hala Aqel, Daniil Ilin and Richard McGowan. (2018). Comparative use of Tuskegee Syphilis Study Film vs. Text Triggers to Teach Bioethics: The Spheres of Ethics Teaching Using Film (SOETUF) College Study. Diversity & Equality in Health and Care.
- Syphilis, An Old Disease With Present-Day Implications. North Carolina Medical Journal. and
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