Prevent Contracting a Syphilis Infection

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At present there is no vaccine available to protect you from contracting syphilis, although research is currently underway for a vaccine to be possible in the future. For this reason, other preventative methods should be used to reduce your chances of contracting the infection as there is no definite way to stop yourself without taking appropriate measures.  By far, the best method of protecting yourself from getting syphilis is to practice abstinence. Abstinence can be defined as willingly avoiding the practice or participation in any sexual activities, both oral and penetrative, with a partner or any other individual.  Otherwise, having a long term sexual relationship with only one partner who has been previously tested and confirmed to be clear will protect you from contracting a STI such as syphilis. Having an in depth discussion with your partner about their previous sexual history is a great step to ensure you are both clear from any infections, plus it is an excellent foundation for building trust and communication into a new relationship.

Contraceptive methods of syphilis prevention

To prevent against syphilis, it is important to practice safe sexual intercourse. Quite often, many people who have syphilis may not know they have it due to the lack of symptoms they are experiencing. As a result, even if you think your sexual partner is clear of the infection it is advisable to use precautions when having sex. Contraceptive methods such as the morning after pill or contraceptive pill may protect again pregnancy, but they offer no form of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, HIV or chlamydia.

Condoms are a potential method of protection against syphilis. They should be placed on the male penis before any penetrative sexual contact, whether that is vaginal, anal or before oral sex takes place.  For women, a latex or soft plastic square can be used to cover the female genitals before any sexual contact. This can also be used on the anus to provide protection against syphilis in this area. However, it is important to recognise that condoms or other such preventative methods may not always be effective especially if the individual has syphilis sores in an area other than the genital region. In this instance, a mouth guard or mouth dam may be used to protect the oral regions from being exposed to the bacteria of syphilis should you unknowingly expose yourself to any syphilitic sores located on the genitalia of the person/people you are having oral sex with. 

Other methods of contraception, such as the hormonal implant, do not provide any form of protection against STIs although they do prevent against pregnancy.  If a female wishes to be proactive in her sexual protection against diseases such as syphilis, there are things she could do to protect herself. The female condom is similar to the male condom in function although there are slight differences in appearance. The female version is essentially a ring with a longer latex tube attached that goes inside the vagina to prevent any semen actually entering the female body. The ring should fit just on the outside of the entrance to the vagina and the tube inside with minimal discomfort. A water based lubricant may be used for additional comfort but an oil based lubricant should be avoided as this can potentially damage the latex, leading to inadequate protection. 

Lifestyle changes to prevent syphilis

The sharing of sex toys in a way in which syphilis can be spread without having sexual contact. The bacteria may have come into contact with the sex toy from a syphilis wound. Sex toy sharing is not advised but if you are to share toys, they should be sterilised then a condom used to cover them, thereby eliminating the risk of contracting syphilis.

There are many myths surrounding possible methods that can be used to prevent a syphilis infection from occurring. One such myth is the washing, or douching, of the genital region after having sexual intercourse. This is not however a way that syphilis can be prevented, and in fact may cause more problems as in women at least, douching increases the risk of a thrush infection. On that note, if you believe you may be at risk from contracting syphilis, it is vital to get tested rather than to try and deal with it yourself.

As well as through risky sexual contact, syphilis can also be spread via recreational drug equipment, such as unsterilized needles or smoking equipment. If you are a user of drugs who injects them intravenously, then you are at a greater potential risk of contracting an infection as the bacteria would get direct access to the bloodstream hence carried around the body, allowed to cause infection and problematic symptoms.  Therefore by not using other individual’s needles, you dramatically reduce the risk of getting syphilis as well as many other potentially life threatening infections. Additionally, many local pharmacies or health care providers offer an exchange service where you may be able to take your unsterile needles and have them replaced for clean ones thereby reducing your exposure risk. More information concerning this service should be available by contacting a GP or drug councillor in your local area.

Avoiding alcohol and drug use in general is an extremely positive step forward to prevent transmission of a syphilis infection through promiscuous activity. Such activities, such one off sexual encounters, are more likely to occur when intoxicated under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  As a result, by reducing your alcohol intake and avoiding the use of recreational drugs, you increase your alertness to certain situations that raise the risk of contracting syphilis hence lower the chances of becoming infected.

There are various sources both on the internet or available in booklet form from a number of locations. For clear, professional guidance concerning any aspect to a syphilis infection, the NHS website should be able to provide you with information concerning not only the disease but also the closest place to you for treatment. Many booklets concerning not only syphilis but other sexually transmitted infections are quite often available from major pharmacists or your local GP.

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