STDs Expert Forum
can my wife and i possibly have syphilis?
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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can my wife and i possibly have syphilis?

Hello, 18 months ago I thought I had contracted syphilis in an unprotected encounter.  I was tested 4 times in the past 15 months because I had exhibited signs/symptoms of this diease, penile redness/indentation of the skin, shiny "snail type tracks" under the head of the penis, fatigue, headaches, white patches on side of tongue, rash that comes and goes over different parts of the body.  All my blood tests were negative.  I admitted my mistake to my wife months ago.  She is 12 weeks pregnant and was tested for syphilis and other std's 2 weeks ago and was negaitve on all of them.  I still have these symptoms which now include dark freckle type spots on the head of my penis as well as the other symptoms I described above.  My wife has been very tired, has a constant nasal drip, and seems to have a sinus infection.  I just havent felt like myself for months now, obviously some of these syptoms (symptoms) could be attributed to stress but not all of them.  Do my 4 neg. tests and my wifes neg. test guarantee that we are syphilis free?  Or is there a remote possiblity that all of those tests could have been false negatives?  I would be beside myself with guilt if I caused our future child to aquire congenitial (congenital) syphilis.  I just need to know my wife and I havent been very unlucky in getting tainted test results or mishandling of blood smaples, ect.  
                                                                       Thx for your time, D
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The blood tests for syphilis are 100% reliable and neither your symptoms nor your wife's suggest syphilis.  Talk with your doctors about your symptoms, but for sure you did not catch syphilis during your sexual indiscretion and for sure neither you nor your wife has it.  There is absolutely no risk of congenital syphilis in your child.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
5 Comments
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I have read extensively on how RPR VDRL testing is not even close to 100% accurate.  I got 20 days worth of doxycycline 100mg a day, 2 times daily and i;ve been taking it for about 10 days and i've begun to feel headaches, tiredness, sick feeling associated with Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction.  Should i just tell my wife to go get penicillin treatment, or rely on her one test knowing that it will be 100% accurate?
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You read wrong.  An negative RPR is overwhelming evidence against active syphilis, especially for a newly acquired infection.

You came here for reassurance.  I gave it.  Why are you trying so hard to convince yourself and me that you really might have syphilis?  Accept the good news.  Do not post anything more on this forum.  I don't have time for such nonsense.
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My apologies Dr. I didnt mean to waste your time or inundate you with my problems I just wanted facts regarding testing(which you gave).  My wife and I buried our first 2 born children due to preterm birth and the last thing I wanted was a stillborn baby or a baby who was born with disabilites.  I guess these concerns have possibly clouded my judgement in feeling relief about negative syphilis tests.  I just want my family to be healthy.      
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It would have helped to have that context when you asked your question, i.e. to know your concerns had some basis in bad experience.  My condolences on your losses.  However, there is no reason for worry about syphilis as a potential cause of any such problem for the current pregnancy.
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This Forum's Experts
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
University of Alabama at Birmingham
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