Sexually transmitted diseases are commonly caused by microorganisms especially bacteria and viruses. However, not everyone is aware of the various ways this can be passed on and the different signs and symptoms associated with it. Syphilis is one type of sexually transmitted infection which can be transmitted through sexual contact. It is important to take note that this disease cannot be transmitted through getting in contact with objects which were previously in contact with a syphilis-infected person. Syphilis can be acquired by mucus membrane to mucus membrane transmission of the disease and such, sexual contact is a necessity to transmit it.
Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum which is transmitted sexually in several means- through genital, oral and anal route. Symptoms which can be very devastating to one’s life can be brought about by syphilis- symptoms which not only affects bodily functions but also the psychosocial integrity and self-esteem of a person. Initially, syphilis appears first as a chancre or a sore in the area where infection happened. The chancre is painless that’s why it is barely noticeable. Eventually, catarrhal signs and symptoms may appear like fever, headaches, and more specific signs like skin rashes, sore throat, hair loss, etc.
Syphilis, as contrasted to other sexually transmitted infections has four different stages of development. Initially, a person who got syphilis may experience having painless ulcers in the area where the infection happened within ten to ninety days after the transmission of the disease. Treponema, the causative agent of syphilis is a spirochete and is described as worm-liked and spiral a shaped bacterium which penetrates mucus membranes and epithelial linings of the vagina, penis, anus and mouth. The second stage occurs as the primary chancre disappears. During this phase, skin rashes start to appear and this rash does not itch and may be difficult to distinguish as it may be too small to look at. Stage III syphilis which is called the latent stage is when the disease is hidden and temporarily asymptomatic, thus, no signs and symptoms relative to the disease show. However asymptomatic a person may be, he or she still carries the disease in him and may still infect others. The fourth stage which is the end-stage syphilis happens when the person starts to experience complications which are related to different body systems which means, general complications had already occurred.
The first line of defense is always prevention. This can be done through being cautious in doing sexual activities and being safe by the use of protective devices. Routine blood tests should be done in order to rule out syphilis. On the bad side, if syphilis successfully implants itself in the body, penicillin is called for and given intramuscularly. Long-lasting shots of penicillin are known to treat this disease. For patients with allergy to penicillin, alternative drugs like tetracycline and doxycycline are given. Treating syphilis varies depending on the stage of the disease a patient is suffering from.
It is very important to take note that unlike other communicable and contagious diseases, suffering from syphilis at one point in a person’s life does not make him or her immune to the disease.