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Syphilis Treatments: What Are They and Do I Need Them?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner


Written by Gerard Tamayo · Updated Dec 19, 2022

Syphilis Treatments: What Are They and Do I Need Them?

Syphilis treatments are readily available for the primary, secondary, or early latent phases. However, treatment is limited for late stage syphilis. This highlights the importance of seeking testing and treatment for syphilis as soon as possible.

Some people with syphilis are asymptomatic or present with no symptoms. In order to prevent this, at risk populations, men who have sex with men (MSM), people who practice unprotected sex with multiple partners, must be screened regularly. Seek medical consultation if you have had unprotected sex with a person whose sexual history is unknown to you. Adequate and timely screening allows clinicians to appropriately diagnose your condition and give you the best treatment regimen tailored to you, antibiotics.

How Do I Know If I Need Syphilis Treatments?

Before undergoing syphilis treatments, you must be tested positive first.

To test for syphilis, blood samples will be taken from you to be tested in a lab. Healthcare professionals will perform two tests — a treponemal test and a non-treponemal test. Your doctor will also inspect your mouth and throat, genital area, and rectal area in order to check for rashes or lesions. If your condition is advanced and your doctor suspects neural involvement, they may also take a sample of your cerebrospinal fluid.

As soon as you receive a positive result for syphilis, it is very important that you tell all your sexual partners of your condition. This is so they may also go through screening and receive treatment before their condition worsens. Afterwards, consult with your doctor on the appropriate medical regimen.

What Happens If I Don’t Get Syphilis Treatments?

If you do not receive your syphilis treatments during the early stages of the disease, the infection can spread and damage several different vital organs of the body. This includes your blood vessels, heart, nerves, eyes, brain, liver, bones, and joints. These can manifest as conditions such as:

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • Stroke (a condition where the brain does not receive enough oxygen)
  • Dementia (a loss of cognitive functions such as thinking, remembering, reasoning, and can manifest as behavioral abnormalities)
  • Heart disease

If the infection progresses and spreads to other organs without treatment, syphilis can be very serious and can even eventually lead to death.

Syphilis Treatments

Benzathine Penicillin G is the treatment of choice for all stages of syphilis. The duration and frequency depends on the stage of infection.  People who are allergic to this product may use alternative agents like doxycycline.

Patients should be monitored with serologic testing after treatment to ensure that they are responding to therapy. Doctors will observe titer levels, or levels of antibodies. If the patient is responsive to treatment, titer levels should decrease. If titer levels do not decrease, reinfection or slow response to treatment should be suspected.

For best results, patients must adhere to treatment guidelines.

While you’re undergoing your syphilis treatments, you will have to periodically follow up with your doctor. This is to ensure that your body is responding properly to medication. Doctors also strongly advise that you avoid further sexual contact, as not to spread the infection to other people.

After Treatment, Can I Still Get Infected?

After syphilis treatments, you are not immune to contracting the infection again. In order to prevent this, experts recommend that you follow safe sex practices, including using protective barrier methods, such as male and female condoms, during sex and avoiding having multiple partners.

Key Takeaways

Syphilis is a condition that is easy to treat during its early stages, but becomes increasingly harder to treat as it progresses. It can be detected early through screening of at-risk individuals, leading to early treatment and complete recovery.

Key-takeaways

Learn more about Syphilis here

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner


Written by Gerard Tamayo · Updated Dec 19, 2022

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