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Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have syphilis. You should get tested if you or your partner has signs of syphilis, or if you’ve had unprotected sex.

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How do I know if I have syphilis?

You can’t tell for sure if you have syphilis just by the way you feel. Like all STDs, the only way to know is to get tested.

If you notice a sore on your genitals or you’re showing any other signs of syphilis, get checked out by a nurse or doctor. Testing is also a good idea if you’ve had unprotected sex or if someone you’ve had sex with has syphilis (even if you don’t notice symptoms). If you’re pregnant, your doctor might recommend that you get tested for syphilis.

In general, people who are sexually active should get tested for STDs about once a year. You can ask your nurse or doctor if you should be tested for syphilis. The best part about getting tested for STDs? Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have syphilis, it’s best to know right away so you can get medicine and get it cleared up as soon as possible.

What happens during a syphilis test?

You can get tested for syphilis whether or not you have any sores or symptoms. Usually, your nurse or doctor will take a quick blood sample to test you for syphilis. If you have open sores, they may gently take a sample of fluid from the sore with a swab and test it.

The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. The good news is syphilis is totally curable with antibiotics — so the sooner you know you have it, the faster you can get rid of it.

Where can I get tested for syphilis?

You can get tested for syphilis and other STDs at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.

STD testing isn’t always part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you may have to ask for it. Be open and honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: your doctor is there to help you, not to judge.

More questions from patients:

How soon should I get tested for syphilis after having unprotected sex?

You can get tested for syphilis as soon as a few weeks after you have unprotected sex. And if you notice a sore on your genitals or you’re showing any other signs of syphilis, get checked out by a nurse or doctor as soon as possible. 

Your doctor or nurse can help you figure out how often you should get tested and for which STDs based on your personal risk factors. Make sure to get tested regularly for syphilis if you’re sexually active and are a cisgender man who has sex with other cisgender men, are living with HIV, or have partner(s) who have tested positive for syphilis.

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