In the first two stages, syphilis can easily be treated with a quick round of antibiotics. But if you don’t treat syphilis within 12 months, it goes latent, meaning the bacteria is still in your body but you may not have symptoms for many years.
Ten to 30 years down the line, it can become active again, though. In its third stage, syphilis can damage your brain, nerves, eyes, heart, and other organs, leading to blindness, paralysis, and even death. Here are some syphilis symptoms in women you need to know about.
Firm, Round, Painless Sores
In the first stage of syphilis, which lasts three to six weeks, you may or may not notice multiple sores at the spot of infection. They’re painless and firm, and kind of have a vesicular (i.e., a small fluid-filled sac) feel. There are usually several in one area, each slightly larger than a pimple, or about half a centimeter in width. They do go away.
Fever And Swollen Lymph Glands
Another symptom that can appear at any stage of syphilis is a low-grade fever, generally around 100.4 to 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It wouldn’t last for very long. A few days, if at all.
To be fair, a fever can be a sign of lots of things, so if you haven’t noticed other syphilis symptoms it’s probably nothing to worry about. Still, if you’re concerned it’s never a bad idea to phone your doctor.
Notice a funky rash anywhere on your body? Always a good reason to check in with your doctor. In the secondary stage of untreated syphilis, you may discover a rash on some pretty random parts of your body. You’ll notice small, rough red bumps, and it may go unnoticed because doesn’t cause itching.
While a syphilis rash most often appears on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet, it can pop up elsewhere. At this point, the syphilis bacteria has traveled through your blood, so it’s starting to affect parts of your body beyond where you were first exposed.
Sores In The Mouth, Vagina, Or Anus
Another sign of secondary-stage syphilis: multiple large (one- to three-centimeter), raised, gray or white sores that appear in moist areas like your mouth, underarms, or groin. They’re wart-like, somewhat raised, and not painful. In fact they can be misdiagnosed as genital warts, which aren’t painful either. Either way, if you notice these kinds of bumps it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your ob-gyn right away.
Ocular syphilis is antertiary effect of untreated syphilis, where bacteria affect the optic nerve in the brain. Symptoms can include vision changes up to permanent blindness. Syphilis is a blood-borne pathogen, so once it’s in the brain it will affect that organ. It’s just an amount of time before gets there. There’s one more good reason to check in with your doctor right away if you notice any early-stage syphilis symptoms.