This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
A French specialist of eminence does not hesitate to reply: Never. We cannot agree with him. In a large number of persons the disease is transient, mild, curable. In others it may be severe and obstinate, but finally yields entirely to judicious treatment. Only in a small minority is it utterly ineradicable. That it is so, however, in this minority, and that it is extremely difficult to say positively, who does not belong to it, is unquestionable. We doubt if any man having once had decided infection can positively say that he has entirely recovered from it.
We know a respectable physician who, when commencing practice, contracted syphilis on the finger in attending the confinement of a diseased woman. It became constitutional, but by active treatment he apparently completely cured it. He married, and has four to all appearance healthy children. Fourteen years after all symptoms had disappeared, on an occasion when his general health was lowered by loss of rest and anxiety, the disease broke out anew. There is not a doubt but that during the whole of that period it had been lurking in his blood.
English writers who have given the question we are considering a great deal of attention on account of its vast social importance, and the frequency with which it is asked, have settled on the following rule, which we believe may be accepted as of general validity, and may be acted on with very little hesitation: The shortest period between the latest epoch of the contraction of disease and marriage must be three years; and at least one full year must elapse between the disappearance of the last symptom of the complaint and the marriage.
We recommend also to all who apply to us for advice on this difficult subject, to test their constitutions thoroughly, and see if they have any seeds of the malady in their systems. This can be done by bathing daily for a month in warm natural sulphur waters; for example, the hot springs of Arkansas, those on the St. John River in Florida, or those so well known to the fashionable public in Virginia. These have the property of producing a peculiar eruption on the skin, if syphilis is present; and if this does not appear, we may be very certain that there is no virus in the system.