Syphilis is a bacterial STI that occurs primarily in men who have sex with men. It proceeds in three stages and has several symptoms per stage.
Stage 1: Syphilis often starts with a painless ulcer on or around the vagina, penis, anus or mouth. This ulcer goes away on its own. The ulcer is sometimes in an invisible place, so it is not always noticed. At this stage, you are very contagious.
Stage 2: Skin rash on your upper body, arms, legs (including palms and soles) and hair loss. Sometimes, you also suffer from:
These symptoms will pass on their own. Sometimes, you have no symptoms at all. At this stage, you are still contagious.
Stage 3: Syphilis can spread throughout the body through the blood. Up to 10 years after infection, various organs, such as the heart and brain, can be affected, and serious symptoms can occur. At this stage, you are no longer contagious.
Untreated syphilis can have serious consequences, as described in stage 3.
To prevent problems in the long term, it is important that you regularly get tested for an STI such as syphilis. Preferably once every three months.
When syphilis is detected in time, it can be treated well with antibiotics. You then only need to be treated once with two injections of penicillin in your gluteals. You are then no longer contagious. Due to the death of the syphilis bacteria, you can feel as though you have the flu and fever after treatment with antibiotics. This is normal. When the syphilis is discovered at a later stage, you should be treated with two injections of penicillin each week for three consecutive weeks. After a treatment for syphilis, we ask you to come back a few times for blood tests over the course of 1 to 2 years. And to check any symptoms.