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How to Recognize, Treat & Prevent the STD Syphilis

Learn the symptoms of, treatment for, and ways to prevent the STD syphilis from sexpert Jane Bogart in this Howcast video.


The first thing to know about syphilis is that is it a bacterial infection and as such is completely curable. Syphilis occurs in three stages. The first stage is primary stage and that stage is where you tend to have some symptoms and the symptoms are usually a chancre. C-H-A-N-C-R-E which is a sore that appears sometimes on the shaft of the penis, sometimes it'll appear on the vulva, sometimes it'll appear inside the vagina around the rectum. Chancres are not usually painful. They look like sores and they could be mistaken for a genital wart or human papillomavirus or they could be mistaken sometimes for herpes. Any sore that appears on your genitals that's never been there before really needs to be checked out by a medical provider. It would take a swab of the chancre in order to diagnose syphilis. If you are diagnosed with syphilis you would be prescribed an antibiotic and that antibiotic would cure the syphilis. If you don't get treatment or you don't get the sore looked at the chancre will go away. You'll still have syphilis and you would proceed to what's called the secondary stage and the secondary stage of syphilis which occurs somewhere between like seventeen days and six and a half months after the chancre goes away. You may experience a rash in the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet and that would be a sign or symptom of syphilis at that stage. You would still want to go and get diagnosed. If you're diagnosed you would be prescribed antibiotics and the antibiotics would completely cure the syphilis. The rash on your hands and feet will go away whether or not you get diagnosed. You will still have syphilis. Once those go away you may have a period of time where there are no symptoms whatsoever but then you would enter the tertiary stage or what's called the latent stage and that can last for years and that stage has no symptoms whatsoever. You still have syphilis, you still have the infection in your body and the infection starts to work on some of your internal organs, it may start to affect your sight. And in worse case scenario it can lead to dementia or insanity and death. The only way to test for syphilis latent stage is through a blood test. You can still treat syphilis and it will cure the bacterial infection but all of the damage that's been done to your body at that stage is not corrected. You will have that damage for the rest of your life. So the key with syphilis is really early detection and early treatment which can absolutely cure it. The best way to prevent syphilis infection is to use some sort of barrier method such as a latex condom or a dental dam or a female condom.

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