Syphilis is a less common, but more serious STI caused by bacteria. Syphilis is easy to treat but left untreated it can lead to serious health problems.


Syphilis develops in stages:

  1. During the first stage, a hard, painless sore or ulcer forms in or around the mouth, penis or anus. The ulcer disappears by itself, but the bacteria spreads through your body via your blood.
  2. In the second stage, you may have flu-like symptoms, suffer hair loss or have a skin rash.
  3. If you don’t get treatment, your internal organs may become damaged (the third stage). The third stage is rarely seen, as the disease is usually detected and treated in time.


Syphilis is easy to treat with a high dose of antibiotics (injections). From two weeks after treatment, you can start having sex again. Even if the treatment was successful, you can become re-infected with syphilis.


Your blood is tested for syphilis during the first antenatal check-up. Syphilis can be passed on to an unborn child during pregnancy via the placenta. This can be prevented if the infection is treated in time.