According to Centers for Disease Control, about 2 million pregnant women harbor or are carriers of STD’s such as Chlamydia and Herpes. While many don’t have a clue whether they have these diseases, the infections can harm both the unborn baby and the mother if left untreated. However, there is no reason to panic as most of the STD’s can be treated. What’s important is to understand what to do so that you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and the baby.
Sex isn’t the only cause
Sex isn’t the only way of contacting STD infections. There are some types of STD (for instance Hepatitis B) which can survive outside the body for approximately one week. This means that you can get them from contact with open sores or blood of an infected person, contaminated needles, or by sharing items, such as razors and toothbrush.
Should You Be Concerned?
As aforementioned, most forms of STD’s can be diagnosed and are treatable. And since most healthcare facilities will test for STD’s at your first prenatal visit, there are minimal chances that the baby could be at risk. However, you need to understand that untreated STD’s could lead to a lot of problems:
• Chlamydia can cause premature labor and even lead to miscarriage. It can also cause eye infections and pneumonia in newborns
• You can pass Herpes to your baby during vaginal delivery, which may cause more complications.
• Gonorrhea is associated with premature labor and delivery, miscarriages, premature membrane raptures, and can put your newborn at risk of blood, joint, and eye infections.
• Trichomoniasis can put you at risk of premature labor and delivery as well as preterm membrane ruptures.
• Syphilis can cross the placenta and cause a wide range of defects and sometimes even stillbirth.
How Can You Be Sure That You Don’t Have STD’s
As aforementioned, since it is very critical to detect and treat STD’s during pregnancy, you will always be screened for various forms of STD’s during your initial prenatal visit. At this stage, it is advisable to let your practitioner know about any case of STD that you’ve had in the past or if you or your partner has multiple partners or often share needles for tattooing or drug use. This information will help the practitioner decide whether you should be screened again in the third trimester or if you and your mate develop any STD’s symptoms.
Even if you are in stable and low-risk relationship, it is important to understand that some STD’s can lurk in the human body for years without serious symptoms, and getting a test is the only sure-fire way of ascertaining that you or your mate did not unknowingly contract one form or the other in the past.
If there is any chance that you’ve contracted STD’s during your pregnancy or if you or your mate detects unusual symptoms, strive to let your practitioner know immediately so that you can be retested. If it is confirmed that you have an STD, you’ll want to be exposed to all the potential risks and available treatment options.
Can You Be Treated While You Are Pregnant?
Yes. The treatment options will vary depending on the type of STD. Non-viral infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics, and there is quite a number that is safe to use during pregnancy.
On the other hand, viral infections such as HIV and Herpes don not respond to antibiotics. Herpes can’t be cured but the practitioner can give you antiviral medication that you can take during the last stages of pregnancy to minimize the chances of an outbreak at the onset of your labor. And if you are HIV positive, a combination of antiretroviral medications will be given to keep yourself healthy and to reduce the risk of the baby getting infected.
If you are pregnant and suspects that you have STD’s symptoms, it is advisable to contact a local practitioner as soon as possible so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect your baby. In certain cases, such as genital Herpes, you may have to opt for C-section to avoid the transmission of the disease to the newborn during birth. In others, drugs will be enough to cure you or prevent the infection from harming your baby.