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Syphilis is another very common bacterial infection that is spread through sexual contact.

What symptoms should I look out for?

• Syphilis can easily be missed as the symptoms can be so mild that people do not notice them or mistake the sores for pimples, a rash or ingrown hairs - this makes regular testing essential (even if you feel completely well).

As the symptoms of syphilis can come and go, it can be difficult to know what to look out for but symptoms can include:

• Small, painless sores or ulcers called Chancres that appear where the infection entered the body (typically on the penis, vagina, or around the anus). These appear anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months after infection and usually go away on their own after 3 to 6 weeks.
• Ulcers can also appear in other places such as the mouth
• A red rash on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
• White patches in the mouth
• tiredness, headaches, joint pains, a high temperature (fever), and swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits
• If it's left untreated for years, syphilis can spread to the brain or other parts of the body and cause serious, long-term problems. Complications of late stage syphilis can occur 10-20 years after the initial infection

How is it spread?

• It is spread through sexual contact with an infected person including vaginal, anal and oral sex.
• The infection is carried in vaginal fluid and semen or pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) and can be spread even if ejaculation does not occur.
• It cannot be spread through casual contact such as kissing. hugging, sharing food and drinks, coughing or sneezing.

How do I prevent it?

• The only full proof way of preventing Syphilis is abstaining from sex - but if thats not your cup of tea..
• Condoms are your friends! They provide a very effective way of preventing STDs.
• Want to know more about condoms? Click here.
• Dental dams are also a very effective way of preventing STDs when engaging in oral sex.
• Finally, regular testing is extremely important in maintaining sexual health. You should aim to get tested at least once a year or every time you change sexual partner.

How is it treated?

• Syphilis is usually quite easy to treat with a short course of antibiotics:
• It is important for your partner to get tested and treated as well!
• As already mentioned if left untreated syphilis can spread to other organs and cause serious complications!

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