Syphilis is one of the oldest and most serious sexually transmitted diseases. Without proper and prompt treatment, it can progress horrifically. Because of the tragic progression of this disease, it is highly recommended that all people who have engaged in unprotected sexual contact undergo syphilis testing.
A Young Person’s Disease?
Many people are under the impression that, once they are past the age of 30, they no longer have to worry about syphilis. That is not the case, however. While it is true that syphilis is more common among sexually active people between the ages of 15-30, the disease can affect absolutely anyone who comes into contact with it. Therefore, all sexually active persons, regardless of age, who engage in unprotected sexual contact should be tested for syphilis.
If left untreated, syphilis can have serious and permanent consequences. However, syphilis is 100 percent treatable via a course of prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, though, many people do not undergo syphilis testing and are not aware that they have the disease. Not only do these unaware infected people pose a serious risk to all of their partners, but they are also endangering themselves. The only way to determine if a person has syphilis and to treat it if so is through syphilis testing.
A Progressive Disease
As mentioned, syphilis is a progressive disease, meaning that, without treatment, it only gets worse with time. Typically, syphilis will progress through four distinct stages. In the first or primary stage, it often presents as a painless sore that appears anywhere between ten and ninety days after infection. In the second stage, a skin rash and lesions in the mouth may develop. The latent phase is the most dangerous because it is symptom free, but by the time the disease reaches the late stage, the body’s internal functions and capabilities begin to be affected. Every person’s “time-line” for syphilis progression is different, but it is in every infected person’s best interest to be treated as soon as possible.
The Spread of Syphilis
Syphilis can be spread through any kind of sexual contact with an infected individual. This includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Syphilis can also be spread from an expectant mother to her fetus and can cause serious pregnancy and birth complications. Therefore, it is particularly important for all pregnant or trying to become pregnant women who may be infected with syphilis to seek testing and treatment as soon as possible.
It’s also important to note that syphilis can be spread for up to four years after it is first contracted. In general, anytime there are syphilis lesions present on the body, the disease can be spread, since it is passed through the lesions themselves. Also, even after a person has been treated for syphilis, he or she can still contract the disease again, which is why regular testing and the practice of safe sex is so very important for all sexually active persons.