Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be active at times and inactive at most. It means that even if you have syphilis infection, you might be asymptomatic or doesn’t show any symptoms at all. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact with someone infected with the bacteria.
Diagnosing syphilis in women
Women with syphilis often end up finding about their infection when it is already too late. This is due to the fact that syphilis doesn’t have many symptoms to start with. However, for women who think they are at risk and wanted to get tested, the first step is to get a full physical examination. A full physical examinations means an interview with a doctor about your sexual activities for both the present and the past, if you notice any symptoms or changes in your body, if you notice any sores in your body especially in the private genitals, if your partner is clean or if your partner is currently in treatment for any sexually transmitted infections and if you had any sexually transmitted infections in the past.
The second step of physical examination includes:
- Full examination of your skin and mouth and the entire body to look for rashes and sores that are often neglected
- A pelvic exam
- Full examination of the genitals including the vagina, labia, vulva, inner thighs and the rectal area
Test to confirm syphilis
Once the full physical examination is complete, the next step is to do a confirmatory test with a blood test. If there are sores found in the body, a sample fluid from the sores can be used to check for the presence of syphilis through dark-field examination (microscope viewing). Since syphilis has the same symptoms with other sexually transmitted infections, confirmation often takes a few days. Doctors often encourage their women patients to seek additional sexually transmitted infections testing such as for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Dark field microscope testing
If there is an ulcer or sore in the body, your doctor can scrap a part of it and check it using their special microscope. This microscope can detect the presence of spirochetes or the bacterium that causes syphilis. This syphilis bacteria dies easily after being scrape from the chancre hence studying it should be done in a fast pace environment. With such limitation, studying the cause of syphilis is becoming more challenging to doctors. So far, Treponema pallidum cannot be cultured or grown in laboratories.
Syphilis treatment in women
Syphilis is indeed easy to treat especially for stage 1 syphilis. Early detection is the only key to make sure that it doesn’t develop to advance or tertiary stage. A penicillin injection is all it takes to treat syphilis infection and among the common treatments used for this are Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa and tetracycline. Penicillin has been proven effective as well in treating pregnant women with syphilis without affecting the newborn. Penicillin can penetrate the placenta to where the unborn baby is to treat it. When untreated, pregnant women with syphilis have higher risks of having blind or dead baby upon delivery.