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STDs During Pregnancy

June 6, 2022
Virtual Gynecology

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), otherwise known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread by having sex or any sexual activity with a person with an STD. STDs can be transmitted through any sexual activity involving the mouth, vagina, or anus.

STDs include:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Genital warts (HPV)
  • Trichomonas vaginalis (Trich)
  • Hepatitis B

STDs should be taken seriously and urgently attended to, whether or not you are pregnant. However, if as a pregnant woman, you suspect you have or have been exposed to an STD, tell your doctor immediately. Prompt treatment is needed to protect you and your baby. 

During pregnancy, having an STD is more harmful, because you are not the only one at risk, your baby can be affected. A pregnant woman with an STD can infect her baby before, during, or after childbirth.

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Symptoms of STDs

There are cases where an infected person doesn't experience any symptoms. Sometimes, symptoms may mean the disease has progressed and is worsening or the infected person's immunity is low.

Symptoms of STDs include:

  • Painful urination
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina (may be with or without odor)
  • Severe itching around the penis or vagina
  • Swelling or redness around the penis or vagina
  • Bumps, sores, or warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina
  • Bleeding from the vagina that is not menstrual bleeding
  • Aches, pains, fever, and chills
  • Skin rash with or without pain
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin 
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • Night sweats
  • Painful sex

Effects of STDs on Pregnancy

STDs in pregnancy can affect you and/or your baby before, during, and after childbirth. 

STDs and how they affect you and/or your baby are highlighted below:

HIV/AIDS

  • Baby can develop HIV infection.

Note: Transmission of HIV infection from mother to child can be prevented.

Gonorrhea

  • Increases risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery if untreated.
  • Baby can develop blindness, joint infection, or blood infection if passed during childbirth.

Chlamydia

  • Increased risk for miscarriage and preterm delivery.
  • Causes severe eye infections and pneumonia in newborns.

Genital herpes 

  • Can infect babies during childbirth and cause damage to their eyes, central nervous system, and multiple organ systems.

Syphilis

  • Premature birth
  • In rare cases, infected children who survive develop problems in their brains, eyes, ears, teeth, heart, bones, and skin.

Trichomonas vaginalis

  • Increases risk for preterm delivery.
  • Infected newborns can have a vaginal discharge after birth.

Hepatitis B

  • Infected newborns can become carriers of hepatitis B resulting in liver disease and even death.

Note: Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent the disease in the mother. Medications can also be given to newborns to prevent mother-child transmission.

Treatment of STDs

During pregnancy, treatment of an STD depends on how bad the infection is and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

  1. Medications

HIV/AIDS

  • Retroviral drugs are given to mothers with HIV to reduce the viral load and prevent transmission to the baby.

Gonorrhea

  • Infected pregnant women are treated with antibiotics.
  • Newborns are given eye medications to prevent gonorrhea eye infection.

Chlamydia

  • Infected pregnant women are treated with antibiotics (doxycycline is not usually given because it can discolor your baby's teeth).
  • Eye medications given for gonorrhea can also prevent chlamydia eye infection.
  • Eye ointment is given to newborns to prevent conjunctivitis.

Genital Herpes

  • Infected pregnant women are treated with antiviral pills for the lesions.
  • Infected mothers may have to deliver via C-section.

Syphilis

  • Infected pregnant women are treated with antibiotics.

Genital Warts (HPV)

  • Treatment is often delayed after delivery.
  • Warts could be treated with surgery or medications. 

Trichomonas vaginalis

  • Infected pregnant women are treated with medications.
  • Spouses or sex partners are treated at the same time to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease. 

Hepatitis B

  • Antibodies injection is given to newborns to prevent mother-child transmission.
  1. Adhere to your drug regimen, especially if you are given antibiotics. Do not stop taking them even if symptoms go away.
  2. Do not share medications or use another person's medications.
  3. Get yourself retested after 3 months to see if you still have the infection.
  4. Learn about STDs

Prevention of  STDs?

  1. Abstinence from sex
  2. Safe sex using a latex condom especially if you have more than one sex partner.
  3. Have just one sex partner. If married, practice monogamy.
  4. If you have more than one sex partner, limit them. The more you have, the higher your risk for an STD.
  5. Get screened for STDs

Pregnant? We're here to help you

A visit to us helps you get your prenatal care started while you await your appointment with your local OB doctor. Your virtual physician can help to electronically order prenatal care labs and/or send an order to the nearest radiology facility for you to get an ultrasound.

At My Virtual Physician, we are available to help guide you through your pregnancy and answer any questions that may arise. We are in network with many insurance health plans including Medicaid, Medicare, United HealthCare, and Blue Cross. 

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