Men and the Four Stages of Syphilis

What Can Happen If Syphilis Goes Untreated

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What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can go through four stages if left untreated. This bacterial infection is usually spread by sexual contact, and its first manifestation is as a painless sore. It has an incubation period of between nine days and three months after unprotected sex with an infected person. While there can be many serious complications if syphilis goes untreated, don't worry!

Once you've been diagnosed, syphilis is easily curable.

Primary Stage Syphilis Symptoms

The primary stage of syphilis often begins with a sore on the part of your body that has been in contact with the infection, such as your genitals, rectum, or mouth. Swelling of the glands in the groin may occur. You probably won't feel ill during this stage, and the sore will heal after a few weeks, even without treatment. Don't be fooled, though. The syphilis is not actually gone and, at this time, if untreated, it will continue to spread throughout the body.

Secondary Stage Syphilis Symptoms

The secondary stage of syphilis can often occur after a gap of several weeks. You may start to feel unwell, experiencing headaches, general aches and pains, sickness, loss of appetite and perhaps even a fever. A non-itchy rash, either flat or raised, will appear on your palms, your feet, the backs of your legs, the front of your arms, your face, or elsewhere on your body.

Hair loss, swollen glands, and sores are also common characteristics of the infection during this stage. These signs and symptoms last anywhere between three weeks and nine months.

Latent Stage Syphilis Symptoms

If no treatment is sought, syphilis will progress to the third stage: latent stage syphilis.

This can last anywhere between a few months and 50 years! During this period of time, you will cease to be infectious to others, although women, on the other hand, can still sometimes pass on the disease to their baby.

Final Stage (Tertiary) Syphilis Symptoms

The final stage of syphilis, known as the tertiary stage, occurs in about 15 to 20 percent of those who go untreated. This stage results in blindness, paralysis, permanent ulcers, and insanity.

Drugs and Unprotected Sex

Although protection in the form of condoms does greatly reduce your chances of contracting syphilis, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. If you are concerned, especially if you have had sexual contact with someone who has syphilis, or who has had multiple sexual partners, get tested.

Drugs are also a cause of the recent upturn in cases of syphilis. One third of men with syphilis used Viagra and some men who were infected also reported using crystal meth and poppers.

If you suspect you may have syphilis, make an appointment wit your doctor! The infection is treatable at any stage.

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