Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause birth defects and other problems for a developing baby. It is very important that women – and their partners – get tested for the most common STDs/STIs once they confirm their pregnancy. When left untreated, STDs and STIs can pass from the mother to her baby, causing serious problems. Birth defects like blindness, deafness, and bone deformities are just some of the ways sexually transmitted diseases and infections harm your baby’s development. If you suspect or know you are pregnant, ask your care provider to test you. Some STDs and STIs have silent symptoms, meaning you never know you have them until it is too late.
Prenatal care always should include STD testing. STDs and STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis can pass to your baby during pregnancy or delivery. Your baby can experience short or long-term health problems once infected. Some of the most common problems include:
Babies who are infected with an STD or STI while in the womb also are at higher risk for premature birth and stillbirth. It is not just the baby who is affected by STDs and STIs. Mothers can experience higher rates of miscarriage if their infection is left undetected and untreated. Birth mothers also may suffer from other health complications. Getting tested for STDs is the best way you can help protect yourself and your baby while he or she is developing in your womb.
Women are more likely than men to experience long-term health consequences after contracting an STD. Damage to the reproductive system is just one of them. Passing that infection along to your baby can have even more dire outcomes. Let’s look at the six most common STDs and explore the complications they can bring to your pregnancy.
Some STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be treated and cured during pregnancy with antibiotics. STIs caused by viruses, like hepatitis B and C and HIV, have no cure and can only be monitored with the hope of reducing transmission during pregnancy and birth. For instance, antiviral medications are approved for use in pregnant women with HIV to help reduce the chance of transmitting the infection to their babies.
If you test positive for an STD or an STI, you will require close monitoring by your healthcare provider during treatment to ensure your safety and that of your baby.
The only 100 percent effective way to prevent an STD or an STI is to abstain from sex. If you are in a committed relationship with a monogamous partner, you can both get tested to ensure you are safe. Avoid sexual activity until you have confirmation you are disease-free, especially if you are planning to become pregnant. Using condoms can help reduce the transmission of some STDs and STIs, but not all.
Care Net Albuquerque offers free STD/STI testing for women and their partners at four locations. Contact us to schedule your appointment at the location that is most convenient for you. You will require a follow-up appointment 2 to 7 days after your testing to discuss the results. If your results are positive, our team will refer you and your partner to a treatment center. If you are pregnant and test positive, you must share those results with your obstetrician so they can take preventative measures to reduce transmission to your baby and treat you for the STD/STI if treatment is available.
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The information and graphics contained on this site are for informational and educational purposes only. This site is designed to promote broad knowledge of various pregnancy or sexual health topics and general understanding concerning pregnancy. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, or professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Pregnancy and other health issues need to be diagnosed by your physician or other qualified health care provider in person. Home tests and online discussions do not qualify as diagnosis or advise for treatment. Make an appointment with one of our center medical team or with your physician to discuss any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Follow your medical provider’s instructions and never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on a website or social media.