Difference Between Syphilis and Gonorrhea (With Table)

Diseases or infections which are commonly but not exclusively acquired by sexual contact are called Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) or Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). The vector organisms could be bacteria, parasites, or viruses transmitted sexually from semen, blood, or other body fluids. Some common STDs are syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, and many other diseases.

Syphilis vs Gonorrhea

The main difference between syphilis and gonorrhea is that syphilis develops generally as a painless sore initially on the mouth, genitals, or rectum and later rashes are seen. The sores are round, firm and may or may not be painless. While gonorrhea attacks the mucous membrane of the reproductive tract.

Syphilis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) that is spread through an infected person during sexual activity. The bacterium Treponema pallidum causes syphilis and enters a healthy body through cuts, wounds, abrasions on the skin or mucous membrane of the healthy individual. Syphilis can be spread orally too.

Gonorrhea is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). The causative agent is the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea and is transmitted through sexual intercourse. Some infected individuals do not develop symptoms and can be an asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The major symptoms include painful sensation during urination, the urge of frequent urination, discharge from the genitals, and many other symptoms.

Comparison Table Between Syphilis and Gonorrhea

Parameters of comparisonSyphilisGonorrhea
Causative agentBacterium Treponema pallidum Bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea
Methods of transmissionThrough sexual intercourse Through oral, anal, and vaginal sexual activities
SymptomsSores and rashes Painful sensation during urination, the urge of frequent urination, discharge from the genitals
EffectsIt affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis, sensory deficits, dementia, meningitis, and even neurosyphilis It affects the mucous membrane of the reproductive tract and can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID)
DiagnosisIt can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin, or doxycycline and can be prevented by avoiding recreational drugs and the use of latex condoms. It can be treated with antibiotics like azithromycin and can be prevented by abstinence and barriers like condoms, dental dams.

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is spread by the vector Treponema pallidum bacteria. The initial symptoms of syphilis include the formation of small firm sores which are usually painless. Because of the painless characteristic, it goes unnoticed for a long period. The sore is termed as a chancre and appears on the genitals, rectum, or mouth.

Syphilis can be broken down into four major stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. Syphilis dies not show severe symptoms for a long time and negligence can reach the tertiary stage which has the potential to damage essential organs like the brain and heart. The sore appears 7 to 50 days after the contamination and remains up to 20 to 60 days.

In the secondary stage, rashes develop on palms and soles. Apart from skin rashes and sores, symptoms like fatigue, headache, fever, hair loss, and weight loss are also common. Syphilis can be life-threatening as it can cause deafness, blindness, memory loss, destruction of bones and tissues, and neurological diseases like meningitis, neurosyphilis, or even stroke.

Possible or likely symptoms of syphilis should be immediately diagnosed. A blood test confirms the bacterial infection. The bacteria tend to remain in the body for a long period, hence tests can detect the current or past history of such infections.

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is spread by the vector bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea during sexual intimation. An infected individual develops the symptoms 5 to 15 days after the exposure. The symptoms developed are frequent urination, pus-like discharge from the penis/vagina, swelling of the genitals, pain experienced during intercourse, burning sensation during urination, sharp pain in the abdomen, heavy blood flow during mensuration, fever, and many other symptoms.

Some infected individuals do not develop symptoms and are the asymptomatic carrier of the infection. They have the potential to infect a healthy individual. If left untreated, it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and can cause infertility. Gonorrhea can even be passed on to a fetus if the parent is infected or is a carrier.

In severe conditions, gonorrhea can even pass into the bloodstream. It can cause arthritis, inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can block and damage the heart valves. Gonorrhea can be prevented by the usage of condoms and other barrier methods.

To confirm the presence of the infection, bodily fluids are examined. The patients have usually prescribed antibiotics like azithromycin, doxycycline, or a shot of ceftriaxone. Regular checks up should be done with or without the appearance of symptoms to stay on the safer side.

Main Differences Between Syphilis and Gonorrhea

  1. Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum while gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea.
  2. In syphilis, the symptoms arise after one to nine weeks while in gonorrhea the symptoms appear after one to three weeks, of the first sexual contact with the infected body.
  3. Syphilis can be detected by the symptoms of sore and rash formation, fatigue, headache while gonorrhea has the symptoms like frequent urination, pus-like discharge from the penis/vagina, swelling of the genitals, pain experienced during intercourse, burning sensation during urination, sharp pain in the abdomen, heavy blood flow during mensuration, fever.
  4. Syphilis can lead to diseases like meningitis, neurosyphilis, or cerebral stroke while gonorrhea can lead to diseases like Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.
  5. Syphilis affects the nervous system while gonorrhea affects the mucous membrane of the reproductive tract.

Conclusion

Sexually transmitted diseases can be life-threatening. Their source of transmission is intimate physical contact. STDs affect both men and women. A pregnant woman with an infection can harm the baby.

An infected individual may or may not show symptoms but can be a potential carrier of the infection. So regular checkup is essential for sexually active individuals. Antibiotics can treat the infection caused by bacteria and parasites but STDs spread by viruses still remain incurable. Hence, it is necessary to check on the partner before being intimate and always use protection.

References

  1. https://www.scielosp.org/article/rpsp/2018.v42/e118/en/
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/8641527
x
2D vs 3D