Get Tested for Syphilis in Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning pregnancy, it’s important to get tested for syphilis.

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

It can be spread during any type of sexual activity with a person who has the infection.

Why is testing for syphilis important?

Syphilis can cause serious health problems if left untreated.

The infection will continue to cause damage until it’s treated, and it’s highly infectious.

It can damage the brain, vision, heart, bones and more.

It can also be passed on to a baby during pregnancy. This can cause miscarriage, early birth and infant death. Babies born with syphilis can also have serious health problems.

How do I know if I have it?

Syphilis does have some symptoms, but they can be easily missed.

The first symptom is usually a painless sore (this sore will pass). The sore can appear in the mouth, anus, penis, vagina or cervix. It looks like a roundish area of broken skin. Even though the sore will heal by itself, the syphilis infection will remain until treated.

Another symptom is a red rash on the body including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Other symptoms could include a fever, hair loss, swelling of the glands in the armpits and groin.

The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

A syphilis test is a blood test.


Who needs to get tested?

  • Anyone who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

  • Anyone who has signs or symptoms of genital infection, an unusual sore or an unexplained rash.

  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with another STI or their partner has been diagnosed with an STI.


Syphilis testing should also be done before and throughout pregnancy. Syphilis testing is recommended at the first pregnancy/antenatal care check-up and at 28 and 36 weeks.

What do I do if I have it?

Syphilis can be treated – it’s a curable infection!

Because of the way syphilis can harm the body, it’s really important to get treatment straight away.

Your doctor or health worker can help you with the next steps.

If you have questions, SHINE SA’s free Sexual Healthline is available!

Find out more

Call our Sexual Healthline

Talk to a SHINE SA nurse for free on our confidential Sexual Healthline.
The Sexual Healthline is open Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 12:30pm