STDs and Pregnancy: How Your Baby Can Be Affected

If you are a mother-to-be or trying to become a mother, there are some facts you must understand about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. First and foremost, pregnancy does not protect you from acquiring STDs. During pregnancy an STD can affect the fetus or the baby. Prior to becoming pregnant or during your pregnancy, it is important to be tested regularly and speak with your doctor. You want to be aware of your health status to take the best preventative measures for your health and the health of your future baby.

Because Mother’s Day is approaching, we felt it would be best to discuss the possibilities of STDs and pregnancy. This blog post is merely to inform and make mothers aware of their sexual health and that of their baby. In this post, we will go over the most common STDs and how they can affect your baby.

1.  Gonorrhea

Often times there are no symptoms for gonorrhea, but when present they include burning during urination, unusual discharge, and/or a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms be sure to test yourself through SelfCollect to be safe or contact your doctor. If you are positive during pregnancy, speak with your doctor to take action. There are times when gonorrhea, if left untreated, can lead to premature birth. This bacterial infection can also be spread to the baby during childbirth. During delivery it can be spread to the eyes of the infant potentially leading to blindness. However, do not fret. Babies are all given medication to prevent eye infections and women can be treated with antibiotics during pregnancy.

2.  Chlamydia

One of the most common STDs in the United States, chlamydia often does not show symptoms. This STD can also affect newborns similarly during birth with eye infections or even pneumonia. Chlamydia is easily treated with an antibiotic during pregnancy. Infants are also given the same medication to prevent eye infections for chlamydia as they are for gonorrhea. You want to take the best preventative measures possible for your baby, so be smart and get tested.

3.  Herpes

Herpes is a virus that falls into categories of Herpes I and Herpes II. Herpes I is considered an oral form of the Herpes virus while Herpes II is considered genital. Herpes II can create sores and lesions across the genital area. During pregnancy this STD does not affect the fetus; however, during childbirth the virus can be passed to the newborn. If there is a vaginal or cervical lesion during birth, the baby can contract the virus affecting the eyes, mouth, skin, and central nervous system.

If you or your doctor notices a lesion, he or she will often times require a C-section for delivery. If you do test positive for Herpes, also watch for lesions on your breast after delivery and avoid breastfeeding if a lesion does appear. Be aware of those who may have “cold-sores”, which are Herpes I. They can also be very dangerous to a newborn. Do not let anyone with a cold sore kiss your baby, just as precaution.

4.  Trichomoniasis

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis include abnormal discharge and a burning sensation during urination. This parasitic infection is very common and can be treated with antibiotics. While it is rare for a fetus or newborn to contract the disease, if left untreated, it can lead to premature birth. Be sure to receive testing for any symptoms you may be having during your pregnancy or after.

5. Ureaplasma / Mycoplasma

These organisms are unique bacteria without cell walls and can cause infection of the lower urogenital tract of male and female adults. They are important causes of premature labor during pregnancy as well as important infections of the bladder, vagina and genitalia. Symptoms may not exist, or if present, are usually low grade forms of discomfort. Treatment with antibiotics will decrease the inflammatory response. The presence of mycoplasma or ureaplasma is important to know during pregnancy because they may adversely affect the baby.  So you and your physician as well as the baby's physician should know your status regarding mycoplasma and ureaplasma. We are able to detect their presence and can alert you and your health care provider if they are found in a sample sent to SelfCollect.

We hope that this blog was informative for you before giving birth to your baby.  While STDs and pregnancy may seem scary, you and your doctor should be able to discuss a plan of action. If you are curious to know your sexual health status, purchase a testing kit from SelfCollect.  We make it easy for you to test yourself and receive secure results from our clinical laboratory scientists and doctors. So don't be afraid. Be smart. Get Tested!!