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Syphilis Treatment

How we test for syphilis

We use the FDA-Cleared Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) method of testing which requires a small blood sample to test for syphilis. The bacteria Treponema pallidum causes syphilis. If exposed to the bacteria, the body creates antibodies that fight it. Our test looks for the presence of these antibodies in your blood. If the antibodies are found, we run a secondary Treponemal Pallidum Assay (TPA) test to confirm the initial test’s findings.

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Syphilis is a common STD that can be easily treated and cured with only one round of antibiotics when detected early. Order our confidential syphilis test then walk right into the lab nearest you. No appointment necessary.

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Is There a Syphilis Cure?

Yes, there is a cure for syphilis. There are treatment options that can eradicate the disease from your body.

How is Syphilis Treated?

Syphilis can usually be treated with a single round of penicillin. Penicillin is an antibiotic that eliminates the bacterium which causes syphilis and is most often administered through an intramuscular injection.

If you test for syphilis and the results are positive, you are eligible for a phone consultation with one of our doctors. During this call, the doctor can provide more insight on how to move forward with treatment.

There are no existing over-the-counter drugs or at-home remedies that will cure or treat syphilis.

Treatment in Different Stages of Syphilis

A single penicillin shot is intended for someone who has early-stage syphilis, however, multiple shots may be required for someone with syphilis that is in its later stages. If the infection has progressed too far, it may be too late to reverse complications. This is why it is so important to be tested regularly for STDs.

What To Expect When Being Treated for Syphilis

Treatment will kill the bacterium causing the infection, but it will not repair the damage that has already been done to your body.

When you receive a penicillin injection, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint Pain
  • Headaches
  • Fever

Side effects are common in the first 24 hours. If they continue, contact your primary healthcare provider.

What Happens if a Syphilis Infection is Not Treated?

If a syphilis infection is left untreated it can reach advanced stages and cause irreversible damage to the heart, brain, and nervous system. Other side effects include blindness, paralysis, and increased vulnerability to HIV. Additionally, syphilis is highly contagious and can spread to sexual partners.

Can I Get Re-Infected With Syphilis?

Yes, you can get syphilis more than once. Back to back cases often occur in patients whose partners were not also tested and treated or those who did not abstain from sexual activity during treatment. We advise getting tested again 3 months after treatment is complete to ensure that the bacteria is completely gone. Getting treated for syphilis does not protect you from re-infection. That’s why it’s recommended to test for syphilis and other STDs at least once a year.

When is the right time to test for syphilis?

Our test can detect syphilis antibodies as early as 1 - 2 weeks post exposure. However, the test is most accurate at 12 weeks post exposure. If you’re experiencing symptoms, get tested now! If you’re worried but not experiencing symptoms, wait at least 2 weeks before testing.

Should I test for other STDs?

Yes! If you had a recent potential exposure to syphilis, it is likely that you were also potentially exposed to other STDs. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are two other bacterial infections that tend to happen simultaneously. Both tend to be asymptomatic, and both have risk of developing severe consequences if left untreated. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our chlamydia and gonorrhea panel.

Additionally, having a syphilis infection causes you to be 2 - 5 times more likely to develop HIV. If you’re worried that you may have been exposed to syphilis, we highly recommend getting tested for HIV as well.

  1. "Syphilis Treatment and Care." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/treatment.htm
  2. "Syphilis: What It Is and How It's Treated." American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0415/p2245.html
  3. "Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR), Qualitative Test." LabCorp. https://www.labcorp.com/test-menu/34106/rapid-plasma-reagin-rpr-qualitative-test
  4. "Recommendations for treatment of syphilis." WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Treponema pallidum (Syphilis). World Health Organization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK384905/

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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