Many women have questions about the relationship between sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, as these two topics are often discussed as two separate, mutually exclusive bodily states. Your ability to contract or carry an STD has many effects on your ability to conceive and carry a child - and vice versa.
Q. Can I get pregnant if I’m infected with an STD?
A. Yes. While untreated STDs do carry a risk of infertility due to infection and scarring, it is possible to get pregnant while infected with an STD. You should always use protection when engaging in sexual intercourse at any time.
Q. Can I be infected with an STD if I’m already pregnant?
A. Yes. Carrying a child does not provide you with any protection against STDs.
Q. What will happen to me if I get an STD while pregnant?
A. The consequences of having an STD are the same for both pregnant and non pregnant women. Depending on which disease you contract, you may develop sores around your genital area and experience vaginal itching or burning. You may also have a fever, muscle fatigue, nausea, and numerous other flu-like symptoms. In terms of your pregnancy, you are at risk for going into early labor, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding your baby in the womb and uterine infection.
Q. What will happen to my baby if I get an STD while pregnant?
A. STDs can be transmitted from mother to child before, during, or after birth, which means that babies may experience the effects of an STD at any time during this period. The Center for Disease Control reports that babies born to women with STDs may experience “stillbirth (a baby that is born dead), low birth weight (less than five pounds), conjunctivitis (eye infection), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis (infection in the baby’s blood stream), neurologic damage, blindness, deafness, acute hepatitis, meningitis, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis.”
Q. Are there any pregnant women with STDs in this country?
A. Yes. Approximately 1.08 million pregnant women suffer from bacterial vaginosis and 880,000 have the herpes simplex virus 2. Less common in pregnant women are chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis.
Q. How can I prevent the effects of STDs on myself and my baby?
A. Abstinence, monogamous relationships, and latex condoms are always your best line of defense against contracting STDs. When pregnant, it is important to receive prenatal care and continue to be tested for STDs if you are sexually active. Most STDs can be treated and cured during pregnancy with minimal effects to mother and baby if sufficient attention and care is provided. In certain cases, delivery by cesarean section can also prevent the spread of infection from mother to baby.