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STDs and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy does not protect women against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Pregnant women should be even more careful because of the potentially serious side effects STDs have on the baby. For this reason, it is important to get the routine STD testing completed during pregnancy (regardless of your/your partner’s sexual history).

Many STDs show no symptoms in women. They may be passed before, during, or after the delivery of the child through the passing of the vaginal canal, or in some cases even cross the placenta during pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) recommends that pregnant women get tested at the first prenatal visit. This screening test should include:
• Chlamydia
• Gonorrhea
• Hepatitis B
• Syphilis
Bacterial vaginosis is another common finding in pregnant women that can have potential side effects. If women have encountered bacterial vaginosis problems in previous pregnancies, the CDC also recommends screening/treatment for this during the first prenatal visit.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

According to the CDC, this is the most common vaginal infection of childbearing age. Women have normal “good” bacteria in the vaginal tract to help protect against infections. When “harmful” bacteria begin to increase and outnumber the “good” bacteria, bacterial vaginosis occurs.

Why is it important to treat STDs?

Infections, whether they are sexually transmitted or not, place pregnant women at greater risk of preterm delivery. If the infection spreads and reaches the uterus, a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease may occur. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) has been linked to infertility, stillbirth, and damage to the reproductive organs.

How to protect yourself from STDs?

The same tips for protection against STDs apply to women if they are pregnant or not. Obviously abstinence doesn’t quite apply for the first group, but latex male and female condoms are the most commonly used and highly effective for anyone sexually active.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.