Syphilis Test




4-12 Hours




Syphilis chancre sore treatment

Syphilis is an infection which is relatively harmless if caught and treated early, but potentially fatal if left untreated, leading to stroke, paralysis, and blindness.


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increase in syphilis since 2021

Syphilis Test

Syphilis is one of the less common sexually transmitted infections in the UK, but the number of cases of new diagnoses has risen significantly in the past decade.

There are four stages of syphilis (primary, secondary, tertiary, and latent). The first three carry different sets of symptoms, and in the latent stage, you are carrying the infection but not showing symptoms. In all stages, it is possible that the symptoms will be mild and difficult to recognise.

Primary stage

In the first stage, known as ‘primary syphilis’, symptoms usually develop 2 – 3 weeks after infection. The main symptom is a chancre – a small, painless sore or ulcer that may not be noticeable. It typically appears on the penis, vagina, or anal area, though can also develop on or around the mouth, fingers, or buttocks. There may be just one sore or several. You may also have swollen lymph glands in your neck, underarms, or groin.
This initial stage of infection can last up to 8 weeks. Without treatment, it will progress to the second stage.

Secondary stage

The symptoms of secondary-stage syphilis include:

  • A rash – anywhere on the body, but most often on the palms or soles
  • Small skin growths (similar to genital warts) – on the vulva or around the anus
  • White patches inside the mouth
  • Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, headache, joint pain, fever)
  • Swollen glands
  • Patchy hair loss

Tertiary stage

The tertiary stage of syphilis can take years to develop. It is systemic and life-threatening, with symptoms such as:

  • Meningitis
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Vision problems or loss
  • Heart problems

Treatment for syphilis is usually simple, with a short course of antibiotics, prescribed by a doctor. You will need to get tested in order to receive the prescription. The kind of antibiotics used will depend on how long you’ve had the infection. The same treatment is given to pregnant women who have syphilis, and it is safe for them to use.

For an infection of two years or less, an injection of penicillin into the buttock is given. If you are allergic to penicillin, a 10 – 14 day course of tablets is given.

If you have had the infection for more than two years, you will be given three penicillin injections, at weekly intervals, or a month of tablets.

If the infection is very serious, the penicillin injection schedule is increased to daily for two weeks or a month of tablets.

A blood test is recommended after treatment in order to ensure that the infection has cleared up.

Will I experience any side effects?

Side effects are a possibility (around 2 in 5 people experience them), but if you do experience them they should clear up in 24 hours. Side effects of syphilis treatment include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain


The infection is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria.

Syphilis is most commonly spread through close contact with an infected sore, which usually happens during sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral). Sharing sex toys or injecting equipment can also lead to infection. Men who have sex with men are thought to be most at risk. It can also be passed on by a pregnant mother to her child, which is why all pregnant women are screened for syphilis as part of routine antenatal blood tests.

What to do next

Our London based doctors can help you understand any current symptoms and advise on any concerns regarding testing or test results. Please come and see us to discuss any aspect of your sexual health.

How To Book A Sexual Health Screen Appointment?

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Use our online booking engine or book your test by giving us a call.

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On the online booking engine select the “appointment type” you need.

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You will be seen by one of our friendly doctors or trained clinicians.


  • No special preparation is required for the syphilis test.
During the test
  • The test is a simple, painless procedure where a blood sample is taken for analysis.
  • Results are typically available soon after testing.
  • If treatment is required, it will be discussed and prescribed by our healthcare professionals.

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Test prices do not include a consultation.


  • 4 – 12 hours turnover time
  • If you have no symptoms and are testing for peace of mind, there is no consultation fee payable.
  • However, if you have any symptoms, please note that a consultation fee is payable of £85 with a specialist nurse or £175 with a GP.

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What is the risk of catching syphilis?
Diagnoses of syphilis increased 61% between 2003 and 2012, with the total number of diagnoses currently being the highest that it’s been since the 1950s. High-risk practices for catching and spreading syphilis include unprotected sex (penetrative and oral), sharing sex toys, and sharing needles. The risks are higher among men who have sex with men.
The first well-recorded outbreak of the disease we now call syphilis in Europe was in 1495. The disease was much more severe then, with more extreme symptoms and much higher mortality rates. Some blame the European spread of the disease on Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas.
The name was coined by Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro in a poem dedicated to the disease, in 1530.

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