What is it?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that in the early stages causes a painless, but highly infectious, sore on your genitals or around the mouth. The sore can last up to six weeks before disappearing.

How do I get it?

Syphilis is spread from sexual intercourse with someone who has it during (typically unprotected) vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Syphilis develops in three stages:

The first stage consists of sores on your genital area. These can also appear in the mouth if you have had oral sex. These sores are highly infectious.

If untreated, the second stage consists of symptoms such as a rash, flu-like illness or patchy hair loss may then develop. These may disappear within a few weeks, after which you'll have a symptom-free phase.

The late or tertiary stage of syphilis usually occurs after many years, and can cause serious conditions such as heart problems, paralysis and blindness.

The symptoms of syphilis can be difficult to recognise. A simple blood test can usually be used to diagnose syphilis at any stage. 

If you have no symptoms and want a straightforward test you can order a smart kit online for home delivery. This is a quick, easy and confidential way to screen for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis.

The condition can be treated with antibiotics, usually penicillin injections. When syphilis is treated properly, the later stages can be prevented.

  • use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex

  • Don't have sex until you’ve finished your treatment and your syphilis sores are completely healed.

  • Your partners should also get tested/and treated for syphilis