Causes of Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by the Treponema bacterium.  There are a few different ways of contracting this bacterium.  Sexual contact with an infected individual is by far the most common route of infection.  Ways of contracting the bacterium which causes syphilis are briefly discussed:

    Sexual transmission

    Sexual transmission is the most common route of infection

  • Sexual Contact
  • As mentioned, sexual transmission is by far the most common route of infection.  The syphilis bacterium is transmitted through mucous membranes or broken skin.  The bacterium is highly contagious and a person may become infected from exposure to a small amount of the bacterium.  This may occur during vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse and oral sex.  Sharing the same sex toys as an infected person may also cause infection.

  • Congenital
  • Congenital syphilis is syphilis which is acquired by an infant from his or her mother.  Babies may either acquire syphilis from an infected mother during pregnancy or during the birth process.  Syphilis may also be the cause of miscarriages and stillbirths.

  • Blood products
  • Syphilis may be acquired from receiving blood from an infected individual.  This way of getting syphilis is very rare because blood and blood products are tested in most countries.

  • Intravenous drug users
  • Sharing needles with an infected person is also a way of contracting the infection.  Sexual spread is by far more common than other ways of acquiring the infection.