Treponema pallidum is a bacterium that causes syphilis infection. This is a type of Sexually Transmitted Disease and it is often transmitted through direct sexual contact. Aside from sexual contact, this infection can be transmitted to unborn babies as well if their mother is infected. Syphilis is one of the oldest sexually transmitted infections known to men and for years, health organizations have been trying to campaign for awareness and to put stop to syphilis infection. Although it is not life-threatening, untreated syphilis infection in women can lead to organ damage and death.
What is Treponema pallidum?
Treponema pallidum is a spiral looking bacteria. It is commonly referred to as spirochetes in the medical world because of its shape. This bacterium often invades and lives in the wet area of the body such as the mouth and the private genitals. The worst-case scenario that a Treponema pallidum can do is when it develops into a chancre – a type of ulcer in the mouth or in the vagina.
Three stages of syphilis in women
The first stage of syphilis is the primary stage and it is when the chancre first develops. Chancre looks like a sore, round but firmer than your usual sore. There are times when there are more than one chancres being developed in the infected area. The chancre is painless though hence oftentimes it is ignored. Chancre disappears after a month or two and it doesn’t need medication to go away.
When syphilis is left undiagnosed and untreated, syphilis develops into the next stage. Secondary syphilis happens after the chancre disappears. Secondary syphilis happens months after the chancre disappears. It is characterized by very common symptoms of rashes and sores. Rashes often appear on the hands while sores appear on the mouth and vagina. Patches of skin also start to appear on some parts of the body such as in the mouth and groin. These patches of skin are called condyloma lata. Since Treponema pallidum has reached and infected most parts of the body, other conditions associated with the infection starts to appear in this stage including having lymph nodes enlargement, feeling tired without any reason and losing weight and hair. Unexplained muscle aches are also apparent as well as unexplained fever. These symptoms disappear after a number of weeks as well even without taking medications.
Once the symptoms of secondary syphilis disappeared, the third level of tertiary syphilis infection begins. It can take up to 20 years before syphilis infection develops into the third stage. At this stage, more serious complications occur such as organ damages. Among the organs hit by Treponema pallidum are the liver, brain, heart and even eyes and nerves. Tertiary syphilis can lead to dementia, feeling numb and paralysis of the body. Once syphilis infection invaded the central nervous system, the condition is referred to as Neurosyphilis. This results to decline up to loss of neurologic functions.