How Do I Know If I Have Syphilis?

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 28, 2023
2 min read

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). You can get it from having sex with someone who has it. It’s easily treated with antibiotics but can lead to serious problems if it’s not.

Only your doctor can know for sure whether you have syphilis. The USPSTF recommends that anyone who is at increased risk for infection undergo screening. 

Your doctor will give you a physical exam, check your genitals, and look for skin rashes or sores called chancres. You’ll also have a blood test. Results typically come back within a few days.

Blood tests can tell if your body is making the antibodies to fight the infection. The ones that fight syphilis bacteria can stay in your body for years, so your doctor can tell if you were infected, even if it were a long time ago.

They can also diagnose syphilis by testing fluid from a sore. That’s rarely done.

Yes. Even if you’ve had it and been treated, you can get it again by having sex with someone who has it.

And it’s important to know even if you don’t see sores, you’re not in the clear. Sores can hide inside your body. See your doctor right away if you’ve had sex with someone who has syphilis. Talk to your doctor about syphilis and other STD testing if you’re sexually active.

Talk to your doctor about testing and prevention of syphilis and other STDs if you’re sexually active. Doctors recommend syphilis testing if you’re:

  • A man who has sex with men
  • A pregnant woman
  • HIV positive and are sexually active
  • Taking PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) for HIV prevention