Advertisement

How can I tell if I have syphilis?

Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrics

In order to test for syphilis, your doctor will do blood tests. Some of the tests are specific to syphilis and others are simple makers of tissue damage.

If you have had a recent positive test for syphilis elsewhere, tell your doctor. Sometimes it is difficult to tell between a new positive and a recently treated syphilis diagnosis. In addition, it can be hard to tell between an old treated and an old untreated case. Follow up labs may need to be done in upcoming months. 

If you do have syphilis, get treated. Also, make sure any of your partners get tested and treated if necessary. In the future, practice safe sex every time.

Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine
Many people are unaware of the initial ulcer because it is painless and can be in a location that can’t be easily seen. The ulcer will go away with or without treatment, but the infection remains and may progress. If you have a genital ulcer, especially one followed by a rash, a medical professional should examine you and check for syphilis. Blood tests can reveal the presence of infection; the blood tests RPR, VDRL, and FTA all check for antibodies to syphilis. A swab of an ulcer can reveal syphilis when viewed under a dark field in the microscope.
Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STDs

More About this Book

Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STDs

Anyone can catch a sexually transmitted disease. STDs are widespread in all walks of life, regardless of gender, race, social status, or education. Seduced into complacency by the notion that "it...

Continue Learning about STDs

Undiagnosed Chlamydia
Undiagnosed Chlamydia
The extra fun of sex comes along with the risk of transmitting a virus or bacteria --known as an STD (or sexually transmitted disease) -- during the a...
Read More
What are the advantages of NAATs for gonorrhea and chlamydia?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) detect the DNA or RNA material of gonorrhea and/or chlamydi...
More Answers
Which test screens for sexually transmitted dieases (STDs)?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
No single test screens for all sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some require a vaginal exam and...
More Answers
Dr. Diane Harper - How is the HPV virus contracted?
Dr. Diane Harper - How is the HPV virus contracted?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.