Syphilis is usually passed on through bodily fluids during vaginal, oral and anal sex as well as by sharing sex toys. However, if the skin or mouth touches a syphilis sore on the body or in the mouth the infection can travel, which means even close bodily contact and kissing can be risky. Pregnant women can pass it on to their unborn babies and, if they do survive birth, infants born with the infection can be seriously ill.
It is usually passed on via unprotected vaginal oral and anal sex. Remember, it is often symptomless so you or your partner may not know he or she has it. Risk factors for syphilis include:
- non-penetrative sexual contact if your skin or mouth comes into contact with a syphilis sore
- sharing sex toys that have not been covered with a new condom between each person's use
- pregnant women with syphilis can have premature or stillborn babies. Infants born with the infection can die or have deformities and seizures
- if syphilis is present in the mouth, it can be passed on through deep kissing, although this is rare
Syphilis cannot be passed on by using toilet seats, baths, swimming pools or by sharing towels, clothes or cutlery.
Last updated June 11, 2018