Contrary to what may be popular opinion, pregnant women can, and do, contract sexually transmitted diseases just like non-pregnant women. While getting the STDs is the same, the consequences can be much more dangerous, for both the mother and unborn baby, then if the woman was not pregnant.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of pregnant women contract STDs each year. The most common STD pregnant women get is bacterial vaginosis. This infection is not strictly considered an STD as it can also be contracted by those who have never had intercourse but it is more frequently found in those who are sexually active.
Pregnant women are highly susceptible to this disease that causes odor, itching and burning in the vaginal area. Over 1 million pregnant women are infected with this disease alone. It can cause low birth weights and premature deliveries, and can leave the women more susceptible to contracting HIV or other STDs.
The other prevalent STDs that pregnant women are infected with each year are herpes simplex virus 2, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. More than a million pregnant women are infected with one of these three STDs each year: 880,000 will get herpes, 124,000 will get trichomoniasis, and 100,000 will get chlamydia. Each of these diseases has its own risks but they can all cause premature births and low birth weight babies.
Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, can be easy to cure once it has been detected but if left untreated it can affect a woman's ability to have children. It can also be passed on to the child who could be born with chlamydial infections of the eye and respiratory tract. Like chlamydia, herpes can also be passed on to the baby during delivery.
The risks for pregnant women who have sexually transmitted diseases, for themselves and their babies, can be fatal. Depending on the disease and the treatment a woman receives for it, the harmful effects of STDs can include stillbirths, blindness, deafness, meningitis, and a host of other issues.