- Sexual Transmission – The transmission of syphilis most commonly occurs during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Contact with a chancre on the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, lips, or inside the mouth, creates a high chance of infection.
- Vertical Transmission (From pregnant mother to fetus) – If you are a pregnant mother with syphilis, and are expecting to deliver soon, you may transmit the infection to the unborn child. This usually results in a low birth weight baby, delivery complications (including pre-term deliveries), or stillbirths.
- Transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs) – It is possible to transmit syphilis through blood transfusions. If the donor has syphilis, the recipient is at risk of developing syphilis. This is a rare occurrence, due to donor blood screening.
The sharing of needles, typically seen in persons who use illicit IV drugs, can also lead to the transmission of the infection. For healthcare professionals, accidentally pricking themselves with used needles can also lead to the transmission of the infection.
How Is Syphilis Transmitted vs How It Is NOT Transmitted
Syphilis is not transmitted by using the same toilet, bathroom, clothing, or cutlery as an infected person.
How is syphilis transmitted? Syphilis spreads through direct contact with the chancre or syphilis sore. The only exception to this is transmission through the blood or through vertical transmission.
Syphilis Transmitted Through Sexual Contact
To completely avoid syphilis transmission, abstain from sexual contact if you or your partner have syphilis, or present symptoms.