All About Syphilis

The History

Syphilis occurred first in Europe between 1494 and 1495. It was in Italy in Naples, which was during a French invasion. It was known as the French disease as it ended up being spread by the troops in France. Not until a while later, in 1530, was it given the name syphilis by Girolamo Fracastoro, who was an Italian physician and poet.

Despite being heavily studied, the origin of syphilis still is a mystery. There are two main ideas on where it had come from. The first is that the Americans carried it to Europe. That it was Christophers Columbus’s crew, and it was a byproduct of the Columbian exchange. The second theory is that it had existed in Europe previously but was never diagnosed as such. 

After news and printing had been invented, syphilis was the first-ever new disease, so this resulted in the news of the disease spreading quickly with an abundance of articles and information. It was even on the front page at one time. 

It was the first new disease after the invention of printing. It was also the first disease linked to sexual activity and, therefore, known as a sexually transmitted disease. As it was a new disease in a time when there was not much research into medicine, there were no effective treatments for the disease syphilis. 

There were, however, popular remedies that were tried but were not effective. During the early stages of the disease, it aimed to expel the disease from your body. Some remedies were things like using laxatives, bathing in wine, olive oil, or herbs, and bloodletting. 

The Disease And Symptoms

Syphilis is a bacterial infection. It is primarily transmitted through having close contact with someone who has an infected sore. The most common way that this happens is through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. 

It can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys with someone who is infected with the disease. Anyone sexually active is potentially at risk of getting the disease. Another way you may transmit syphilis is by injecting yourself with drugs while sharing needles with someone infected. Although rare, it can sometimes even come through blood transfusions, although blood donations are tested for the disease once received. 

It cannot be transmitted by using the same toilet, clothing, cutlery, or bathroom as someone infected with syphilis. It is important to know that pregnant women who have syphilis can pass on the disease to their unborn babies. Once the disease is transmitted, it isn’t always obvious that you have contracted the disease and can sometimes disappear. Usually, however, you will still be infected unless you get treated for the disease.

Sometimes people can have the disease and have no symptoms at all, which can go unnoticed. If you do show symptoms, though, there is a range of things that you can experience. You may get small sores or ulcers which are painless, and these will typically show up on the penis, vagina, or around the anus. They can also appear in other areas of the body, like the mouth. One of the symptoms is a red blotchy rash. 

This can show on the palms of the hands or the soles of your feet. You may also get something similar to genital warts developing, small skin growths; this can be on the vulva for women as well around the anus for both women and men. You may also experience tiredness, headaches, joint pains, a fever, swollen glands, swollen groin and armpits, as well as white patches in the mouth. 

If syphilis is untreated for a long, long time, it can sometimes spread to the brain and other areas resulting in severe and long-term health conditions.

Diagnosing Syphilis

If you think you have syphilis, you will need to make sure you are tested for your safety and others you are in close contact with sexually. The way to test for the disease does vary. You will first be asked whether you are experiencing any of the symptoms and your sexual history. 

You will usually have a physical examination. The health care practitioner examining you will check your body for growths or rashes, which can be caused by syphilis, and examine your genitals and inside the vagina for a woman. 

A blood test will tell if you have syphilis and can also tell if you have had it in the past. If there is a negative result, but you may feel you have it or are at risk of having it, then you can repeat the test a few weeks after the first result. This is to ensure it wasn’t tested too early and giving an inaccurate result. 

The other way to test for syphilis is a swab test. It is similar to a cotton bud and is used to take a fluid sample from a sore you are exhibiting so it can be tested for the disease. You can get same-day STD testing with a 15-minute lab visit. Call to order.


There are treatments for syphilis, and one of these treatments is an injection of antibiotics. This is injected into your buttocks. If you have had the disease for a long time, you will have three injections given at weekly intervals. 

Most people, however, will only need one dose of the antibiotics. The other treatment would be if you cannot have the injection of antibiotics, then you will have a course of antibiotics in tablet form. How long you have the course will depend on how long you have had the disease but normally is between 2-4 weeks. 

After you have finished your treatment for syphilis, you must avoid sexual activity or close sexual contact of any kind with another person for a minimum of 2 weeks.