Painless Genital Ulcer? Don’t Ignore It!

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

In the age of social media and dating applications, having sex with someone you met online has never been easier. While it may be mutual and casual, increased in frequency of sexual activities and number of partners is not without its consequences – with each partner and each session you engaged in, especially without protection, you are exposed to the risk of acquiring or transmitting, sexual transmitted diseases.

So, if you are sexually active and hardly use any protection, have you ever noticed the presence of painless ulcer(s) around your genital?

If you have noticed, you might think that the ulcer is harmless because it doesn’t cause any pain and after leaving it for a few weeks, you learned that the ulcer is no longer there, leading you to think that whatever it was, it is not around anymore.That’s a fair assumption to think that the disappearance of the ulcer corroborates the disappearance of what causes it but in actual fact, that is a dangerous assumption because the aforementioned description are features of Primary Syphilis.

Syphilis is an infection caused by the bacteria Trepanoma pallidum and the infection can be divided into four stages namely Primary, Secondary, Latent and Tertiary. Progressing from one stage to another occurs over time and each stage has a different presentation compared to the other.

The stage in which a person develop painless genital ulcer, also known as a chancre, is the primary stage of the disease and regardless if you are treated or not, the ulcer will heal and disappear in anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks. The formation of the chancre denotes the entry point of the bacteria but it is not always easy to notice because it is painless and depending on the type of sexual intercourse you engage in, chancre deep in the anus or the vagina is simply not noticeable. Chancre may also occur in the mouth if you engage in fellatio or oral sex.

What’s more dangerous is that chancre is highly infectious and that failing to notice the presence of the chancre or ignoring it and then engaging in sexual intercourse with different partner poses risks of you to transmitting syphilis to your partner and/or acquire new infection thanks to the skin breakage from the painless ulcer. Just because the chancre isn’t there anymore doesn’t mean it has been dealt with adequately – quite the opposite instead because if you don’t get adequate treatment, disappearance of the painless lesion simply mean the bacteria has now moved to further and deeper places in the body, progressing from one stage to another, becoming more and more severe.

As of 2015, the incidence of new Syphilis cases per 100 000 population in Malaysia is at 6%, (6000 people for every 100 000 population). In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the distribution of primary and secondary syphilis cases by sexual behaviour and found that the highest case of Syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men only (52%).

If you are unsure of your status or has even experienced the presence of a painless ulcer around the genital, it is highly encouraged for you to see a doctor and get yourself tested as Syphilis is best treated early.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

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Review Date: February 27, 2019 | Last Modified: February 27, 2019

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