What is syphilis?
- Caused by an organism called a Spirochete.
- Transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sexual intercourse.
- It can also be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy.
How would you know you have syphilis?
Syphilis occurs in 4 different stages :
- Painless red, wet sores (usually ulcers) appear on the :
- These sores are called primary chancre and will disappear after a few weeks.
- Swollen lymph glands may also appear at the same time.
- A person who has been exposed may or may not notice the chancre until 3 days to 3 months later.
- If not treated early, the person will have latent (hidden) syphilis which has no symptoms. This can last for many years.
- However it can be detected by doing the appropriate blood tests.
- If still not treated, they can develop tertiary syphilis.
- The spirochetes have spread to the whole body and can affect the :
- Spinal cord.
Some of the symptoms are :
- Difficulty in walking.
- Gradual blindness.
What are the complications of syphilis?
- Syphilis is very dangerous if left untreated.
- Brain damage and other serious health problems once developed are no longer treatable.
- A pregnant woman can spread the infection to her newborn, causing major birth defects.
How is syphilis treated?
- Your doctor can make a diagnosis by examination and blood test.
- Early stages of syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics.
- Patients with chronic disease need longer periods of treatment.
- Unfortunately, damage to the body from late stages of syphilis cannot be treated.
How is it prevented?
- The best way is to avoid sex.
- If you are below 16 years old, having sex is illegal unless you are married.
- The Malaysian law states that consensual sex with girls below 16 years old will lead to the male being charged with statutory rape.
- If you are sexually active, practice safe sex.
- Be loyal to one partner. Avoid multiple partners.
- Use condoms. However condoms are not 100% effective in preventing syphilis but are able to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Avoid taking alcohol or drugs that can impair your judgement.
|Last Reviewed||:||28 August 2020|
|Writer||:||Dr. Hargeet Kaur a/p Basant Singh|
|Reviewer||:||Dr. Nazhatussima bt. Suhaili|