Stages of Syphilis
The latent (hidden) stage of syphilis begins when secondary syphilis symptoms end. This stage can start from 2 years to over 30 years after the initial infection.
In early latent syphilis, you may not have syphilis symptoms, but the infection remains in your body. When you are in this stage, you can infect a sexual partner.
In late latent syphilis, the infection is quiet and the risk of infecting a sexual partner is low or absent. If you don't get treated for latent syphilis, you will progress to tertiary syphilis, the most serious stage of the disease.
Even without syphilis treatment, only a minority of infected people develop the complications associated with tertiary (or late) syphilis. In this stage of syphilis, the bacteria can damage almost any part of the body, but most commonly affects the:
This damage can happen years or even decades after the primary stage of syphilis.
(Click Syphilis Symptoms to learn more about the symptoms seen in these stages of syphilis.)