Symptoms of Syphilis

Symptoms of syphilis appear in three stages. Early symptoms can be mild, and sometimes people don’t notice them for years. They may come and go during that time.

Syphilis has been called “the great imitator” because its symptoms mimic so many other diseases. Symptoms include:

  • Stage 1: One painless, open sore called a chancre (SHANK-er) on the penis, in the vagina, in the rectum or in the mouth that disappears after three to six weeks
  • Stage 2: A rash and flu-like symptoms, including:
    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle aches
    • Sore throat
  • Stage 3: Severe symptoms, including:
    • Heart disease
    • Damage to other internal organs
    • Paralysis or other central nervous system diseases
    • Mental confusion or deterioration
    • Blindness
    • Death

If a pregnant woman has untreated syphilis, she has an increased chance of miscarriage or having a baby with deformities. About 2 in 5 babies born to women with untreated syphilis are stillborn or die as infants.