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Syphilis can be easily cured with antibiotics. Your sexual partners need to be treated, too. If you don’t treat syphilis, it can lead to very serious health problems.

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What is the treatment for syphilis?

Syphilis is usually super easy to get rid of in the early stages. Your nurse or doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection — usually penicillin, unless you’re allergic or can’t take it for other reasons.

If you’re having syphilis treatment, it’s really important for your sexual partners to get treated also. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth, or to other people.

What do I need to know if I get treated for syphilis?

If you’re getting treated for syphilis:

  • Take all of your medicine the way your doctor tells you to, even if your symptoms go away sooner.

  • Your partner(s) should also get tested and treated for syphilis so you don’t re-infect each other or anyone else.

  • Don’t have any kind of sex (vaginal, anal, oral) until you and your partners have finished your treatments, and any sores are totally healed.

  • Don’t share your medicine with anyone. If your partner needs treatment, you should each get your own separate doses of antibiotics. Make sure you both take all of the medicine prescribed to you.

  • Even if you finish your treatment and the syphilis is totally gone, it’s still possible to get a new syphilis infection again if you’re exposed in the future. Syphilis isn’t a one-time-only deal. So use condoms and/or dental dams and get tested regularly.

What happens if I don’t get treated for syphilis?

Even though syphilis is common and has mild symptoms in the beginning, it can become a really big deal if it’s not treated. You can also easily pass it to other people.

Syphilis is easily cured in the early stages. But if you don’t treat syphilis early on, it can get worse and do serious harm to your body in the future. Late stage syphilis can lead to health problems that can’t be reversed or healed, like blindness or paralysis.

Syphilis can also cause problems if you’re pregnant. Syphilis can be passed to your fetus during pregnancy or to your baby at birth. This is called congenital syphilis, and it’s very dangerous. Congenital syphilis can lead to stillbirth, birth defects, or infant death. You should be tested for syphilis if you’re pregnant to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Having syphilis also increases your chances of getting or spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

More questions from patients:

How long can I have syphilis before it can't be treated?

Syphilis is easily curable with antibiotics in the early stages. If you get treatment during late stage syphilis, it will still cure the infection and stop future damage to your body. But the damage that late stage syphilis has already caused can’t be reversed. 

Complications from late stage syphilis can show up 10-20 years after you get infected. This is called tertiary syphilis. Most people with untreated syphilis don’t develop tertiary syphilis. However, it can cause tumors, blindness, and paralysis. It can also damage your nervous system, brain, and other organs, and may even cause death.

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