Syphilis In Women: Symptoms And Treatments
Syphilis is an infectious sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and has an annual incidence of 12 million new patients worldwide. Syphilis is transmitted sexually, from mother to fetus and through blood transfusions and organ transplantation. As for sexual transmission, infection occurs through biological fluids (also saliva) and direct contact between mucous membranes.
In 50% of the cases, syphilis is completely asymptomatic, and this constitutes one of the factors that allow the infection to spread rapidly in the population (in half of the cases, the affected subjects do not know they are contagious). In the remaining 50%, the pathology manifests itself with a precise and varied range of symptoms. In the first two phases syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. If the disease is not treated within 12 months, it becomes systemic, ie it involves the whole organism (secondary syphilis). In this case it is generally observed a rash, also accompanied by fever, bone pain, diarrhea and, in the most serious cases, by problems affecting the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Once this phase is over, the subject becomes asymptomatic and, in the absence of therapy, after a long pause (5-10 years) the bacterium returns to be felt affecting the heart, bones, muscles and central nervous system with progressive paralysis (tertiary syphilis).
The infection occurs after about 3-4 weeks from the contact when a small roundish lesion (maximum half a centimeter) appears, like a vesicle, usually painless, which over time tends to become an ulcer. In women the sifiloma frequently appears on the genitals or in the area of sexual contact at the level of the cervix, vulva, vagina, perineum. The lesion can also occur in the anorectal area or within the oral cavity. This symptom of the first stage of syphilis tends to disappear after 4-6 weeks: often the lesions go unnoticed, especially if they are very small or in areas that are not visible.
After about a week from the appearance of the sifiloma, the woman often suffers from a fever at first sight unexplained and the lymph nodes become enlarged
A cutaneous erythema may appear in the secondary phase of untreated syphilis. Syphilis erythema appears more frequently on the palms of the hands or on the soles of the feet, but can also appear elsewhere, usually localized. The syphilis bacterium begins to enter the blood and spread throughout the body
Another sign of syphilis in the second stage are the large (one to three centimeters) gray or white sores that appear in wet areas such as the mouth, armpits or groin. They look like warts, they are not painful, so they can easily be diagnosed as genital warts that, in fact, are not painful.
When syphilis is not treated and reaches the third stage, the bacteria can reach the brain. “Neurosyphilis” affects 10% of patients and can cause meningitis and spinal cord inflammation. Other symptoms may be sensory deficits, paralysis, dementia. The good news is that syphilis is treatable with antibiotics at any time.