Syphilis in Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What is the prognosis for syphilis?

Syphilis infection can be cured in any stage by the administration of penicillin. However, in later stages, damage already done to organs is not reversible. Treatment in any stage can eliminate the infection, but once organ damage occurs, it is not reversible.

Can syphilis be prevented?

There is no vaccine available to prevent syphilis. The use of safe sex practices, including condom use, can only prevent syphilis if the infectious chancre is located in a body area protected by a condom. Washing or douching after sexual activity cannot prevent the infection. It is not always possible to know whether a sex partner is infected with syphilis because the chancre (ulcer) may be located inside the vagina or rectum. Neonatal syphilis is preventable by treating the mother early in her pregnancy.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCES:

"Syphilis -- CDC Fact Sheet." U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 20 Aug. 2013.

"Syphilis Elimination Effort (SEE)." U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 9 Sept. 2011.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2015

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