Syphilis guide

Syphilis treatment


Is there a cure or treatment for syphilis?

Yes. Once you've been tested and diagnosed with syphilis, it can be easily and effectively treated and cured with antibiotics – most commonly, with an injection of penicillin. If the infection is in a later stage, additional injections may be necessary in one-week intervals...in rare cases, an intravenous infusion may be necessary.

Six months after you've been treated, you'll be tested again to verify that the penicillin treatment has successfully destroyed or substantially decreased the presence of the bacteria...this is called a "test of cure."

Syphilis can recur

Once you've been treated for syphilis, you're not immune...you can be re-infected. That's why sexual partners should be treated at the same time so that an untreated partner still carrying the bacteria doesn't re-infect the treated partner...and you'll want to avoid sexual contact altogether until treatment has been completed.

Be sure to continue to use latex condoms to minimize the risk of re-infection.

Pregnancy and antibiotics

In general, syphilis can be cured during pregnancy with antibiotics. Consult your regular doctor about the risks involved, and to identify a treatment that's best for you and your baby.

Last reviewed by Lisa Oldson, MD, January 2011.

Lisa Oldson, MD

STD expert

"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."