Discreetly Test for Syphilis
Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. While this used to be a rare STD, it has been on the rise since 2005. Our syphilis test lets you easily check for this sexually transmitted infection from the privacy and convenience of home.
Syphilis: What It Is, And Who's At Risk
Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It’s spread by sexual contact—including vaginal, anal, and oral sex—with someone who’s infected. This test won’t be able to tell you the specific site of the infection, but it will be able to detect whether you have this infectious disease.
It’s estimated that about 85,000 new cases of syphilis are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) annually, and the total number of infected individuals in the United States has been increasing over the past few years.
Pregnant women infected with syphilis can spread it to their unborn child during pregnancy (resulting in congenital syphilis). Men who have sex with men comprise the largest group of infected individuals, totaling just over 80% of all reported cases to the CDC in 2016. It’s recommended that anyone who has had sexual contact with a person known to be infected with syphilis, men having sex with other men, pregnant women, sexually active people with HIV, and anyone taking PrEP for HIV prevention should get tested for syphilis.
This syphilis test will, within >99% accuracy, tell you whether you have this infectious disease.
As with all Everlywell tests, our at-home Syphilis Test kit is delivered in discreet packaging and taken in the privacy of your own home. Once you return your test sample to our lab and your sample is processed, you’ll be notified via email when your results are ready. You will then be able to access your test result through an easy-to-understand report on our secure online platform.
The Syphilis Test checks whether or not you test positive for syphilis. In the event that your test results are abnormal, an associate from our physician network will contact you directly to discuss your particular case as well as provide information on how to take the next steps to get treatment. We take customer privacy very seriously and will never share your information with a third-party with the exception of the lab we use to test your sample and our physician network. As is the case with all sexually transmitted disease testing - whether through Everlywell or your doctor – we may be required by law to report positive test results to certain state health departments. This is only done to track infection prevalence. In rare cases you may not receive a definitive test result because of early syphilis infection or inadequate sampling and repeat testing is suggested. Don’t take a chance on your sexual health. Know where you stand with our at-home Syphilis Test.
A syphilis infection is associated with certain signs and symptoms based on the phase of the infection:
- The earliest—or primary—stage, is associated with a firm, round, painless sore on the genitals. The sore, called a “chancre,” usually goes away after several weeks, even if the infection isn’t treated.
- Untreated syphilis can advance to a secondary stage of infection, which can be characterized by skin rashes, fever, patchy hair loss, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and other symptoms.
- The latent stage is the next stage of an untreated syphilis infection. Latent syphilis often occurs without obvious signs or symptoms, but that doesn’t mean the infection has gone away. On the contrary, during the latent syphilis stage, the infection persists in the body—sometimes for years—and can ultimately lead to tertiary syphilis, which damages organ systems like the nervous system, heart, and eyes.
In some cases, syphilis bacteria can attack the nervous system—resulting in “neurosyphilis.” Neurosyphilis—a condition that can develop at any point in a syphilis infection—can lead to severe brain disorders characterized by dementia, loss of muscle coordination, and more.
Because the signs and symptoms of neurosyphilis are similar to those of other disorders, a diagnosis requires lab testing via a lumbar puncture—or “spinal tap" (so spinal fluid can be analyzed). More specifically, in a lumbar puncture, a needle extracts a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal cord (the system of nerves and vertebrae that runs down the back and transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body). The cerebrospinal fluid is then checked for syphilis bacteria to determine if the infection has reached the nervous system.
Two types of syphilis tests can screen for and diagnose syphilis (along with consideration of signs and symptoms potentially caused by this sexually transmitted disease). Syphilis testing can be done with a treponemal test or a non-treponemal test. Both syphilis tests are required to confirm a diagnosis.
Treponemal tests check a sample of blood for antibodies that react with certain molecules (antigens) that are unique to the syphilis bacterium. (Antibodies are specific compounds made by your body in response to bacterial infections, viruses, or other microbes. They tell your immune system’s defender cells if something is a threat that needs to be destroyed.)
The Everlywell Syphilis Test—which lets you check for syphilis from the privacy and convenience of home—is a treponemal test.
Non-treponemal tests are some of the oldest antibody tests that check for syphilis, and are widely used by many laboratories since they are needed for diagnosing an infection.
During an active infection, syphilis bacteria produce a very specific compound known as “cardiolipin-lecithin–cholesterol.” In response, your immune system makes antibodies that react with this compound that tell your immune system’s defender cells where the infection is taking place in the body.
Non-treponemal tests measure how much, if any, of these antibodies are in a blood sample. The Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) test and Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test are some of the most commonly used.
What’s the difference between a treponemal and nontreponemal test?
Treponemal tests give either a “positive” or “negative” result. Treponemal tests are often used as screening tests, where a positive result indicates that additional testing for syphilis is needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Non-treponemal tests can give a numerical result because these tests measure the amount of antibodies that react with syphilis bacteria compounds. This makes non-treponemal tests useful for determining what stage the infection is in—and how the infection responds to treatment (based on the amount of antibodies in the blood sample).
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