Syphilis in Women - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Syphilis in Women

On this page:
Fact sheets
Important information for women
Complications: Congenital syphilis
Syphilis prevention for women
Testing and treatment
Partner notification

Fact sheets

Minnesota Women, Syphilis is on the rise: Get Tested (pregnancy card) Minnesota Women, Syphilis is on the rise: Get Tested (pregnancy card) (PDF)
This 5.5" x 8.5" card reminds pregnant women to get tested for syphilis.

Important information for women

  • Syphilis is spread by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
  • Sores can be found on the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, lips, or in the mouth.
  • Syphilis can also be passed from an infected woman to her unborn baby.

Complications: Congenital syphilis

Untreated syphilis during pregnancy may spread to the developing baby. This is called congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis can cause:

  • Premature birth (baby being born too early) or stillborn birth (baby being born dead).
  • Health problems like cataracts, deafness, seizures, or death.
  • Severe damage to bones, brain, lungs, liver, and other organs.

Syphilis prevention for women

  • The only way to completely avoid getting syphilis or other STDs is to not have anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
  • If you are sexually active you can reduce your chances of getting syphilis by:
    • Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
    • Condoms prevent the spread of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore. Sometimes sores can occur in areas not covered by a condom, so you could still get syphilis from contact with these sores, even if you are wearing a condom.
    • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results.
  • Washing your genitals, urinating, or douching after sex will not protect you.
  • Having syphilis once does not protect you from getting it again. Once you have been successfully treated, you can be re-infected.

Testing and treatment

Get tested regularly. 

  • You can get a test from a health care provider, or your family doctor.
  • Getting Tested for STDs and HIV
    Resources for finding STD testing clinics in your area. 

Partner notification

Always notify sex partners immediately if you are infected. It is important to make sure all partners are tested and treated.

 

Content Notice: This site contains HIV or STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV and other STDs are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this web site.