What causes syphilis in men?

What causes syphilis in men? - welzo

What causes syphilis in men?

syphilis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and can be passed to others through a sexual partner

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has been around for centuries and is still a major health concern today. In men, syphilis is usually transmitted through sexual contact and can cause serious health problems if left untreated.

In this article, we'll discuss the causes of syphilis in men and why it is important to be aware of the risks and diagnostic tests. By understanding the causes of syphilis in men, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and those around you.


What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) bacterial disease. Syphilis varies between active and dormant periods. Symptoms are present in active phases. When the infection is inactive, there may be periods when no symptoms are present. Still, the infection remains until you receive treatment. Syphilis infection occurs in four stages:

  • Primary syphilis,

  • Secondary syphilis,

  • Latent syphilis(early latent and late latent syphilis), and

  • Tertiary syphilis


How is Syphilis Caused and Transmitted?

Syphilis is caused by a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. This bacteria is primarily transmitted through unsafe sexual practices, such as anal, vaginal, or oral sex. The bacteria can also be transmitted through contact with open sores, known as chancres, on the infected person's genitals, rectum, mouth, or throat.

Syphilis can occur in pregnant women and can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth through blood transfusions, sharing of needles, and other forms of contact with infected body fluids causing what is called congenital syphilis in the baby. It is important to note that syphilis can be prevented by practising safe sex, such as using condoms and avoiding contact with any open sores.


Risk Factors 

Men are more likely to become infected than women. Risk factors for syphilis in men include:

  • Having unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners

  • Having sex with an infected person.

  • Engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours such as having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Additionally, men who have sex with men are more likely to become infected than heterosexual men. The use of condoms can reduce the risk of contracting syphilis. However, it is still possible to contract the infection even with a condom. Getting tested regularly and being aware of any sexual partner’s health status can help reduce the risk of infection.


Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis in Men

In men, the most common symptom of syphilis is a painless ulcer or syphilis sore called a chancre. This syphilis sore is typically solitary and appears on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. It will usually go away on its own after a few weeks.

Other symptoms in men may include rashes, fever, wart-like growth on the penis or anal region, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. Syphilis symptoms may lessen or disappear after some time, but if you haven't been treated, you could infect others.

 If untreated, syphilis can lead to serious complications, including organ damage, blindness, and even death. It is important to get tested for syphilis if you have had unprotected sexual contact or any of the above symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing long-term health problems.


How to Check Men for Syphilis?

Testing is recommended for all sexually active males, especially those with multiple partners or a history of other sexually transmitted infections. Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment and preventing infection spread.

Diagnostic tests for male syphilis involve a physical exam and laboratory tests to detect the presence of the bacteria that causes the infection. During the physical exam, the healthcare provider looks for rashes, warts, or syphilis sores around the penis and the anus.

The laboratory tests include darkfield microscopy, a tissue biopsy, and a blood test. Darkfield microscopy looks for the bacteria in a sample taken from a sore or rash. A tissue biopsy provides a definitive diagnosis and involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from an affected area for laboratory examination.

Blood tests are the most common method for diagnosing syphilis, as they can detect the presence of antibodies that the body produces in response to the infection. Blood tests, such as a rapid plasma reagin test (RPR) or a venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL), are often used to diagnose syphilis. These antibodies in the blood indicate that the person has been infected with the bacterium that causes syphilis. 


How to prepare for Syphilis tests?

If you are getting tested for male syphilis, you may need to do a few things to prepare. Depending on the type of test, you may need to fast for a certain amount of time before the test or refrain from drinking or eating certain foods or beverages. 

You may also need to avoid certain medications or supplements that could interfere with the accuracy of the test. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what to do to prepare. Also, tell your doctor about any medications you are taking and any symptoms you are experiencing.

There are no risks associated with syphilis diagnostic tests. However, patients may experience slight discomfort or pain when their blood is drawn.

Here is a simple blood syphilis test you can do at home if you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms. 

What Do the Results Mean?

The most commonly used diagnostic tests are the rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test and the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test. Both of these tests detect antibodies to the syphilis bacteria, which shows if a person has been exposed to the infection.

The results of these tests are usually reported as a positive or negative result. A positive result indicates that a person has been exposed to syphilis bacteria. In contrast, a negative result indicates that a person does not have an infection. In some cases, a negative result may be followed up with a confirmatory test to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate.


Syphilis Treatment and Prevention

The best way to prevent syphilis is to use condoms during sexual activity and to get tested regularly for STIs, including syphilis. Abstinence is also an effective way to prevent syphilis. Additionally, it is important to practice safe sex and avoid contact with sores or other areas of the body. If you do have any symptoms of syphilis, you should seek treatment right away.

If left untreated after the initial infection, syphilis can cause serious health issues even after years of infection. You might develop tertiary syphilis that can damage internal organs, leading to death in some cases.

Your doctor will use a course of antibiotics, such as penicillin, to treat syphilis by killing the bacteria that causes it. Antibiotics may need to be taken for several weeks or even months to eradicate the infection fully. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics. After starting treatment, don't have intercourse for the first 14 days, even with protection. You could contract or spread syphilis if you engage in sexual activity during this time.


Blood tests are repeated at 6 and 12 months, then every six months for two years after antibiotic therapy to ensure the drug is successful. If your immunity is weak, Follow-up tests may be done more frequently.

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