Against common belief, pregnant women can become infected with the same sexually transmitted diseases that can affect women that are not pregnant. It is important that they ask their doctors about getting tested for STDs in order to avoid uncalled for complications in childbirth and harmful effects on the baby.
Here are some facts that you must know about pregnancy and STDs:
- About 2 Million
That’s how many pregnant women today are also carrying an STD. Being pregnant does not protect you from contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection such as herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B or HIV.
- Most women don’t realize they’re infected
Since most STDs have no symptoms – especially in women – if you were infected before you got pregnant you may not have even known it. And it’s definitely possible to catch an STD by having unsafe sex during your pregnancy. In both situations, unless you get tested, you may not be aware something’s very wrong.
- Pregnancy can add to STD complications
In any woman, STDs and sexually transmitted infections can cause serious conditions like cervical cancer, chronic hepatitis and infertility. But if you’re pregnant, they can cause early labor or result in a miscarriage.
- If untreated, STDs can cause serious harm to infants
Premature birth, eye damage including blindness, pneumonia, mental damage and stillbirth are among the risks to your baby from an STD. Infections can also be passed onto an infant during vaginal birth. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the herpes virus if you’re infected during pregnancy; neonatal herpes can be deadly.
- Early detection of STDs for pregnant women is essential
STDs including syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. If you catch the infections early enough, there’s a good chance you and your baby will be just fine.
Early testing is even more crucial when it comes to herpes, hepatitis and HIV.
If you’ve got herpes, it’s important to treat any outbreaks during your pregnancy; your baby may be delivered by C-section to reduce the chances of infection. In addition, an infant can receive treatment as soon as she’s born which will make it much less likely she’ll carry the virus.
Hepatitis B is highly contagious, but if you learn you’ve got it, your baby can be vaccinated or treated immediately after birth to lessen the chances she’ll be a carrier.
And if you’re HIV positive, proper treatment while you’re pregnant will greatly reduce the chances you’ll pass it on to your baby.
- All pregnant women should be tested for STDs and HIV
Although the U.S. CDC recommends that all mothers-to-be get tested for STDs and HIV, many doctors don’t routinely order the tests. Now available online without a doctor’s order, testing can be easy, inexpensive and private.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Content was reviewed and approved by Dr. Edward Salko, Personalabs Medical Director.