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Test for Syphilis at Home
Syphilis is not as common as some STIs, but it is very infectious and easy to pass on to other people.
It’s caused by a bacteria called Treponema Pallidum, and is usually easy to cure with antibiotics. If it’s not treated and cured however, it can eventually cause serious damage to your body.
Do I need a syphilis test?
Syphilis is usually passed on by having sex without using a condom.
Not everyone with syphilis has symptoms, so getting tested is the only way to know if you have it.
Syphilis can be very infectious, even when you don’t have symptoms. Getting tested and treated means that it won’t cause long-term problems for you, and also stops you passing it on to other people.
It’s a good idea to get tested for syphilis and other STIs at least once a year and whenever you have a new sexual partner.
When do symptoms for syphilis appear?
Not everyone with syphilis gets noticeable symptoms and they can be easy to miss.
Syphilis has three different stages, known as primary, secondary and tertiary.
- Primary symptoms most often appear within 3 months of having syphilis.
- Secondary symptoms usually appear about 4-10 weeks after any primary symptoms but not everyone develops this stage.
- Tertiary syphilis usually appears between 2 and 10 years after infection. It is very rare and only happens if syphilis has been untreated for many years.
After the secondary stage, syphilis can become latent. This means you have no symptoms but may still be able to pass the infection on to other people. This only happens if the secondary syphilis is untreated.
Syphilis symptoms in men and women
During the primary stage, you may notice one or more ulcers (small sores). These may be:
- On the genital area or around the anus, or inside the vagina.
- On other parts of your body such as the mouth and lips .
The ulcers don’t usually hurt but are very infectious. They can take up to 6 weeks to go away.
Secondary stage symptoms can include:
- A rash. This might be all over the body or only on some parts, such as the palms of hands and soles of feet.
- Wart-like bumps around the anus or around the vulva (external genitals) in women.
- Swollen glands.
- Feeling tired and ill, a bit like flu.
- White patches in and around your mouth.
When should I get tested for syphilis?
If you have any symptoms, get tested at a sexual health service as soon as possible.
A test can’t always detect syphilis in the first few months after infection. If it’s less than 3 months since you might have been exposed to syphilis, you can still do a test now, but you may need another test later.
Until then, it’s a good idea to use condoms so that if you do have syphilis, you’re less likely to pass it on.
What test do I need for syphilis?
Our syphilis test is a blood test for both men and women.
Tests are available as part of our HIV, Standard, or Comprehensive STI test kits.
Our syphilis tests are for people with no symptoms. If you have symptoms, get checked at a sexual health clinic.
You’ll need to take a blood sample from your finger. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes and shouldn’t hurt. We’ll send you everything you need, along with guidance on taking these samples.
Syphilis home test results
How quickly will I get my syphilis test results?
As soon as your syphilis test results are ready, we’ll contact you with details of how to access them securely online. You can choose whether we contact you by text or email.
You’ll usually be able to access the results in 2 to 5 days.
What happens if I get a positive syphilis test result?
If your test is reactive for syphilis positive, this means syphilis antibodies were found in the sample you returned. This suggests syphilis infection. If you’ve had syphilis in the past, even if you had treatment, you will get a reactive result. You need to do a further confirmatory blood test in a clinic to check whether you need treatment. Please visit your local NHS sexual health clinic to arrange a confirmatory test as soon as possible.
It’s important to get treated at a sexual health service as soon as possible. You can show them your online test result or print it out. They may ask to examine you to check if you have any symptoms.
Your current or recent sexual partners will need to be tested for syphilis and will usually be offered treatment while waiting for the result. Sexual health services may be able to help you contact partners anonymously.
Don’t have any sex until 2 weeks after both you and your sexual partner(s) have finished treatment. And make sure any ulcers or rashes have healed first.
You’ll need a follow up test to check the syphilis has gone.
If you have had syphilis before that has been treated, and you think you may have been exposed again, then you should attend a sexual health clinic for your syphilis test. This is because you may need extra tests to know if you have a new infection, which we do not offer through our service.
How confidential is my syphilis test?
Our service is completely confidential. We won’t tell anyone else about your syphilis test and we don’t share your results with anyone else. All our tests are delivered in plain packaging.
If you test positive for syphilis, you will need to share your result with a sexual health clinic to get the right treatment.
We have procedures in place to keep your data secure. See our FAQs for more information.
How accurate are syphilis tests?
No STI tests are 100% accurate but all our tests are carried out by an expert STI testing laboratory.
As long as a test is done at the right time, our blood tests are very accurate at detecting syphilis.
It’s advised to test as soon as possible if you think you could have syphilis. If your test is earlier than 3 months after exposure, then it may be negative even though you do have syphilis. It’s a good idea to test again after 3 months.
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