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Syphilis treatment

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Syphilis can be diagnosed by testing through a simple blood test, which can be done by your GP, at your local sexual health clinic or through our Online Doctor. As primary and secondary syphilis are easy to treat with a penicillin injection, it is important that if you are concerned about your health that you get tested. If you are allergic to penicillin, there are alternative treatment options.

How is syphilis treated?

Syphilis can usually be treated with a short course of antibiotics. As syphilis is extremely infectious, it’s important to get it treated because it won't normally go away on its own and it can cause serious problems if left untreated.

The type of treatment you need depends on how long you've had syphilis. Syphilis that has lasted less than two years is usually treated with an injection of penicillin into your buttocks, or a 10-14-day course of antibiotic tablets if you can't have penicillin.

Syphilis that has lasted more than two years is usually treated with three penicillin injections into your buttocks given at weekly intervals, or a 28-day course of antibiotic tablets if you can't have penicillin.

Side effects of treatment

Following treatment, you may experience some side effects such as a high temperature, headaches and muscle pain. These symptoms usually only last for 1 or 2 days and often times, they can be treated with paracetamol.

Do I need to avoid having sex during treatment?

It is imperative, that you avoid any kind of sexual activity or close sexual contact with another person until at least two weeks after your treatment finishes. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as close skin contact. If you have sex during treatment, you could become infected again or you could pass the infection on to someone else.

Treating syphilis during pregnancy

If you have syphilis whilst you are pregnant, the infection can be safely treated with antibiotics. Once again, the treatment depends on how long you’ve had syphilis and how far along in your pregnancy you are. If you’ve had syphilis for less than 2 years, you’ll be treated with an injection of penicillin into the buttocks. If you’ve had syphilis for longer than 2 years, treated is typically three penicillin injections into the buttocks given at weekly intervals.

How do you get syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is passed on by unprotected anal, oral and vaginal sex. To protect yourself from syphilis you will need to use barrier methods of contraception such as condoms.

Can I test myself for syphilis?

Yes, syphilis is tested through a blood sample. This can be done at home with a LetsGetChecked STI test or you can visit your GP or local sexual health clinic. 

If I have syphilis once can I get it again?

Yes, even if you have had treatment you can catch syphilis again, as treatment does not make you immune to the infection. That’s why it is important to practise safe sex and use condoms.