Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Pregnant women with an STD may infect their babies before, during, or after the baby's birth. For this reason, the doctor will screen for most STDs at the first prenatal visit. If a woman has sex with someone who is affected, after her initial screening, she will need to be tested again. Treatment of STDs is the best way to protect the pregnant woman and her baby.

Akshaya Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
The symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sometimes, there are no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they might include:

  1. Bumps, sores, or warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina
  2. Swelling or redness near the penis or vagina
  3. Skin rash
  4. Painful urination
  5. Weight loss, loose stools, night sweats
  6. Aches, pains, fever, and chills
  7. Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  8. Discharge from the penis or vagina (vaginal discharge might have an odor)
  9. Bleeding from the vagina other than during a monthly period
  10. Painful sex
  11. Severe itching near the penis or vagina
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect the woman and her pregnancy and treatment options

STDs in pregnancy can affect the woman and her developing baby:

  1. Chlamydia:

    Pregnancy seems to be unaffected by chlamydia infection. However, infants exposed to the infection at birth can develop severe eye infections or pneumonia.

    • Treatment:

      Mothers with chlamydia are treated with antibiotics and all newborn babies are given antibiotic eye ointment after birth to prevent infections.

  2. Genital Herpes:

    Herpes infection in pregnant women is relatively safe until she gets ready to deliver. Active herpes lesions on the genitals are contagious and can infect the infant during childbirth. Thus, many women are delivered via the cesarian section.

    • Treatment:

      Antiviral medications can be given. Cesarean section if indicated.

  3. Gonorrhea:

    If contracted during pregnancy, the infection can cause mouth sores, fever, and bloodstream infections. The baby is usually unaffected, but if the baby is born while the mother has an active infection, the baby may develop an eye infection or blindness, joint infections, or blood infections.

    • Treatment:

      Mothers with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics and all newborn babies are given antibiotic eye ointment after birth to prevent infections.

STDs in pregnancy can affect you and your developing baby:

  1. Hepatitis B:

    This is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. If a pregnant woman is infected with hepatitis B, she can transmit the infection to the fetus through the placenta, infecting the newborn baby. In addition, women with hepatitis B are more likely to have premature birth delivery. However, early screening and vaccination can prevent the worst outcomes of this infection.

    • Treatment:

      If you have hepatitis B, your doctor will give your newborn baby an injection of antibodies and a vaccine to prevent the baby from becoming infected.

  2. HIV/AIDS:

    Thanks to the advent of powerful medication combinations, the transmission of HIV infection to the infant is almost completely preventable. However, if the disease is passed on, the baby may develop an HIV infection.

    • Treatment:

      Although HIV/AIDS is an incurable disease, the woman can prevent transmitting the virus to her baby by taking various medications.

  3. HPV/Genital Warts:

    It is a common STD that can present with lesions or may have no symptoms at all.

    • Treatment:

      If you contract genital warts during pregnancy, treatment may be delayed until after you deliver. Delivery is only affected if large genital warts are present, and the doctor will discuss delivery options with a pregnant woman.

  4. Syphilis:

    Syphilis is easily passed on to the unborn child and is likely to cause fatal infections. Untreated infants can be born premature or develop problems in multiple organs, including eyes, ears, heart, skin, and bones.

    • Treatment:

      The doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission to the baby.

  5. Trichomonas Vaginalis:

    This is a parasite that causes the vaginal discharge. If left untreated, babies can be premature and have low birth weight.

    • Treatment:

      This infection is easily treatable with antibiotics.

If an antibiotic is given to treat an STD, it's important that the pregnant woman takes all of her medicine, even if the symptoms go away.

Also, never take someone else's medicine to treat illness. By doing so, the patient might make it more difficult to treat the infection.

Likewise, the woman should not share her medicine with others.