Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease of four stages. It has an incubation period of between 9 days and 3 months after unprotected sex with an infected person.
Primary Stage Syphilis Symptoms
The primary stage of syphilis, often begins with a sore on the part that has been in contact with the infection, the genitals, rectum or mouth. Swelling of the glands in the groin may occur. You do not usually feel ill and the sore heals after a few weeks without treatment. This is a problem because the syphilis has not gone and it continues to spread throughout the body.
Secondary Stage Syphilis Symptoms
The secondary stage of syphilis can often occur after a gap of several weeks. You may start to feel unwell, with features including headaches, general aches and pains, sickness, loss of appetite and maybe a fever. A rash, flat or raised and not itchy, appears on the palms or feet, backs of legs, front of the arms, on the body or face. Hair loss, swollen glands and sores are also a feature. Signs and symptoms last for between 3 weeks and 9 months.
If no treatment is sought syphilis progresses to a third stage, the latent stage syphilis. This can last anywhere between a few months and 50 years! The person ceases to be infectious to others, although a woman can still sometimes pass on the disease to her baby.
Final Stage (tertiary) Syphilis Symptoms
The final stage of syphilis, known as the tertiary stage, occurs in about 15 to 20% of those not treated. It results in blindness, paralysis, permanent ulcers and insanity.
Syphilis Drugs and Unprotected Sex
Increases of sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis also mean unprotected sex is leading to increases in the number of people becoming infected with HIV.
Although protection in the form of condoms does greatly reduce your chances of contracting syphilis in does not eliminate the risk entirely. If you are concerned, especially if you have had sexual contact with someone who has syphilis or have had multiple sexual partners, get tested.