Syphilis in Japan is now a real problem. Recently the number of reported syphilis cases has been on the rise, increasing the risk of contracting the disease for people who are sexually active. Coming to the realization that you may have an STD is scary, nerve-wracking, and embarrassing, but don’t let this embarrassment prevent you from seeking the proper medical advice as soon as possible.
What is Syphilis?
The word “syphilis”, or “baidoku”(梅毒) in Japanese, carries some pretty scary connotations as a highly infectious STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) that can be transferred by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, in reality, syphilis is easily curable with no long lasting-effects if caught in its early stages, of which, there are four: “primary,” “secondary,” “latent,” and “tertiary (late)”.
The first stage will show symptoms anywhere from 10 days to 3 months after you contracted the disease. This stage is characterized by small sores on the skin called “chancres” in the area that the bacteria came in contact with your body. Chancres are painless and may go unnoticed, eventually resolving naturally in about 3 to 6 weeks, but this does not mean syphilis has gone away; rather it has entered it second phase, eventually reemerging and leading to sores in the mouth, groin, or anus, red-brown rash, fever, and aches and pains.
The latent and tertiary stages are where the real risks from syphilis occur. The dangers of untreated long-term syphilis can be very serious and include irreversible effects such as blindness, dementia, and even death.
Please note that pregnant woman infected with syphilis can easily transfer the disease to their baby, in which case this is called “congenital syphilis”. Like anyone else afflicted with syphilis, a baby may not show signs of sickness until weeks later. Unlike adults with syphilis however, babies are much more apt to be devastated by the disease as it can greatly effect their development.
What to do if you think you have syphilis?
If you think you may have syphilis while in Japan, make haste and get an examination by a medical professional. As mentioned above, while syphilis is easy to treat, failing to do so in a timely manner can lead to grave results.
Diagnosing syphilis and how to avoid it
Diagnosing syphilis is quick and easy, as only a simple blood test is needed, which can be done at a hospital. Syphilis treatment is very straightforward. A single prescription of antibiotics will remedy the infection in its first stages, while later stages of syphilis may require additional medication.
Treatments for Syphilis in Japan
Many medical facilities offer treatment and consultations for STD related illnesses. There are two types of syphilis tests, a thorough and the most popular test which takes 2 days to get results and an express alternative. If you have insurance a consultation with a medical test will set you back a mere 1500yen. Once you get your results, treatment for syphilis is 1200yen, however costs may vary slightly if patients conditions are sever and the illness has progressed further than anticipated.
Reason for higher number of cases in recent years
While it is difficult to say for sure why syphilis in Japan is on the rise, one of the reasons may be that people with the disease have not been aware they have it. Syphilis may lay dormant in the system for a long time before revealing itself, but it can still infect other people through sexual contact. Therefore, rather than being on the rise recently, it is possible that many people with syphilis have simply not been properly diagnosed until now.
If you are unsure whether or not you may have syphilis in Japan, please err on the side of caution as diagnosing and treating the disease is so easy.
Before you go, just remember:
● Syphilis is a common and easily treatable STD
● Ignoring the warning signs of syphilis can lead to dangerous consequences
● The price of diagnosing and treating syphilis in Japan starts around 15,000JPY