Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) during Pregnancy

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) during Pregnancy

A woman who has a sexually transmitted disease (STDs) during pregnancy can affect her baby’s health adversely. An STD may also cause certain complications during delivery. Sexually transmitted diseases are also known as sexually transmitted infections. Not many are aware of STDs and generally, have misconceptions about it. So, find out what are STDs and how they affect during pregnancy.

What are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)?

As the name suggests, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are the diseases that spread from one person to another through a sexual act. The sexual act includes vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person.

How Common are STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases or infections are fairly common, and many women around the world may contract this infection during pregnancy. However, in the dearth of proper and affordable diagnostic measures, it is more prevalent in developing nations.

Who is Most At the Risk of Getting STDs

In the following conditions, a woman may contract this STDs:

  • If she has multiple sexual partners.
  • If her partner has multiple sexual partners.
  • If she has had an STD in the past.
  • If she has shared a drug needle (IV) with an infected person.

Types of STDs

If you fall into any of the above risk categories, you should bring it to your doctor’s notice. Here are some sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy:

Signs and Symptoms of STD while Pregnant

Contracting sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy can be life-threatening for your baby. Therefore, it becomes important that you should be aware of the symptoms of this infection to treat it in time. Here are some signs and symptoms that may help you identify if you have contracted an STD during pregnancy:

  • Pain during sex or pain while peeing.
  • Redness, swelling, bumps, or soreness in the vaginal or anal area.
  • Rashes or itching in your vagina.
  • Bleeding or discharge from the vagina, other than periods.
  • Fever, chills, aches or jaundice.
  • Weight loss, loose bowel movements.

Common Sexually Transmitted Infections and How They Affect Pregnancy

We shall now talk about some common sexually transmitted infections and how they may have an affect on your pregnancy:

1. HIV/AIDS

AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is caused by human immunodeficiency virus and if you contract this infection during your pregnancy, it may lead to catastrophic effects. The infection hampers with the body’s immunity or defence mechanism during pregnancy and may also get transmitted to your baby. You may transmit this virus to your baby in the womb, during delivery or while breastfeeding too.

A positive HIV test

2. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. In case you have this infection, then you will experience severe itching, smelly vaginal discharge, and burning sensation while peeping. Women who have this infection are at a greater risk of delivering preterm or premature babies. The baby born to such mothers may also have eye infections or a lung infection.

3. Syphilis

Syphilis, a bacterial infection, is caused by Treponema pallidum. This infection may cause skin liaisons or non-itchy skin ulcers. This condition may be fatal for your baby. It may lead to preterm birth, stillbirth, or the baby may die within a few hours after birth. It may even cause heart, brain, skin, bones, or teeth problems in your baby.

4. Herpes

In case a pregnant woman has herpes, her baby may be safe until the delivery. The liaisons on the genitals are highly contagious, and your baby may get infected during the delivery. Therefore, your doctor may recommend for a c-section if you have this infection.

5. Hepatitis B

If a pregnant woman has hepatitis B (a liver infection), there are chances that the virus may be transmitted to her baby through the placenta. A baby infected with this virus becomes infected for the lifetime and may develop severe liver complications. In some cases, it may even lead to death.

Hepatitis B virus

6. Genital Warts

A cluster of warts may appear on the genitals. These warts may itch or burn severely and may obstruct the birth canal during pregnancy. In case you have genital warts, your doctor may suggest that you go for a caesarean delivery for your baby.

7. Gonorrhoea

If a pregnant woman catches this infection, she may not only experience pain while peeing but it also increases her chances of a miscarriage or preterm birth of her baby. In case the mother has this infection at the time of delivery too, it may increase the chances of her baby developing severe blood infection or blindness.

8. Trichomoniasis

The woman with this infection may experience itching, smelly vaginal discharge, or bleeding. This bacterial infection may rupture the membrane leading to preterm delivery.

How Are STDs Diagnosed

When you visit your doctor for prenatal visits, your doctor may check for the signs of any STDs. However, if you have had STDs before, or have a new sexual partner during pregnancy or any other such symptoms, you should tell your doctor about the same. Your doctor may examine you thoroughly and conduct various pregnancy STDs tests to establish if you are suffering from any kind of STD or not.

A pregnant woman at doctor's

How Are STDs Treated in Pregnancy

Sexually transmitted diseases may prove fatal for you and the baby. Therefore, it becomes important that proper treatment for the infection should be started. Here are some treatment options available to treat various kinds of STDs during pregnancy:

1. HIV/AIDS

This is an incurable virus; however, a pregnant woman can take various medicines to prevent the infection from transmitting to her baby.

2. Chlamydia

This infection is usually treated with antibiotics. Medicines may be given to the newborn baby to prevent this infection from causing any eye problems; however, the risk of pneumonia won’t be prevented.

3. Syphilis

You will be administered a course of antibiotics for inhibiting the infection from getting transmitted to your baby and also from not spreading further.

4. Herpes

If you have herpes, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines to you. Also, you may be advised to go in for a c-section so that you may not spread the infection to your baby.

5. Hepatitis B

In case you have this infection, your doctor may give your baby an antibodies injection to protect your baby from getting infected.

6. Genital warts

Your doctor may recommend delaying your treatment for warts until your delivery.

7. Gonorrhoea

You will be given a course of antibiotic medicine for the treatment of this infection. Your baby will be given medication to prevent an eye infection.

8. Trichomoniasis

If you are infected with this condition, your doctor may prescribe various medicines to cure this condition.

How Can You Prevent STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs affect your pregnancy adversely and may pose a grave threat to your unborn baby; therefore it is best to protect yourself from all such infections. Following are some effective ways of preventing STDs during pregnancy:

  • Do not have multiple sex partners as it increases your risks of catching various kinds of STDs.
  • Refrain from having unprotected sexual intercourse. It is advised that you make use of latex condoms, whenever you have sex.
  • Do not have any sexual relation with a person who may have more than one sex partner.
  • Having one partner or having sexual relations with a single partner reduces your chances of having STDs.
  • Find out more about the signs and symptoms of various STDs so that as soon as you spot any, you may seek medical help.
  • Get yourself checked for STDs on a regular basis, if you think you are at a risk of catching such infections. Early detection helps in controlling the symptoms and complications that may arise.

Pregnant women may get any kind of STD infections. You will be checked for such infections during your antenatal visits. In case your doctor establishes that you are suffering from any kind of STD, he will start treating it, and will also monitor your pregnancy closely. So, don’t worry and believe in your doctor.

Also Read: 22 Infections That Can Affect Your Pregnancy