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Sexually transmitted diseases are always awkward, but never more so than when you are pregnant! How are sexually transmitted diseases treated during pregnancy, and in which ways could they harm a fetus or newborn if they are not diagnosed?

STD testing for pregnant women

Every pregnant woman is in a very unique personal situation. You may be single or partnered, and your relationship may be happy or unhappy. Happily married or partnered couples often feel particularly unpleasant about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases why should they, if they have been monogamous for years? The thing with sexually transmitted diseases is that they can sometimes go undetected for many years, as some STDs do not have clear symptoms in all people.

It is entirely possible to bring some sexually transmitted diseases into a relationship without knowing about it; catching an STD off your partner does not necessarily mean he or she was unfaithful during your relationship. Cheating is, of course, a possibility as well. When you are pregnant, just see STD testing as a routine procedure not an act with which you accuse your other half of having an affair. STD testing during pregnancy is important because many sexually transmitted diseases can have very negative consequences for a baby, either during pregnancy or after birth. Every STD has its own specific dangers, so we'll take a look at what you can expect with each STD in terms of treatment as well as what the STD can do to your baby if you do not get treatment.


Chlamydia is the most frequently seen STD in America and many other countries, and also one of the sexually transmitted diseases that are often in "stealth mode" without symptoms. When left untreated, chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and damage the fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. Chlamydia in pregnancy has other risks. The disease can cause miscarriage and possibly lead to a lower birth weight in babies. It can also be passed on to the baby during birth. If that happens, the baby is at risk of developing a horrible eye infection that can lead to blindness, as well as pneumonia. If you test positive for chlamydia in pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics are lighter than the ones prescribed for chlamydia to women who are not pregnant, and to men. They usually work, however.


Gonorrhea is another common sexually transmitted disease. Along with higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth, gonorrhea can result in premature birth and the premature rupture of your waters. As with chlamydia, gonorrhea can cause eye problems in an infected baby. It can also lead to joint and blood problems. Women who have gonorrhea are also more vulnerable to HIV. Men usually have symptoms when they contract gonorrhea, but many women do not. Again, testing is important here. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy. Not uncommonly, gonorrhea and chlamydia overlap and they are treated at the same time. Retesting is carried out after a few month.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a nasty virus that nobody wants, but it is usually less dangerous for a fetus than other sexually transmitted diseases. Women who were first infected with genital herpes before they got pregnant and then have a secondary outbreak during their pregnancy do not medical experts agree pose much of a risk to the baby. A primary infection during pregnancy can cross the placenta in rare cases, and a primary genital herpes infection during the first trimester can cause serious birth defects. The worst danger occurs when a woman with active sores from a primary outbreak has a vaginal delivery. Neonatal herpes is rare, but 85 percent of all cases happen as a result of a vaginal birth with active sores. In five percent of cases, the transmission occurred in utero, while 10 percent happens during the postpartum period. Outbreaks of genital herpes during pregnancy can be managed with antiviral drugs like Acyclovir, but a primary outbreak around the baby's due date also requires that the baby is delivered by c-section to dramatically lessen the odds of transmission. When who have any kind of herpes while they have a newborn, including cold sores, should wash their hands very frequently and make sure sure the herpes does not get transmitted to the baby.

Genital warts

Genital warts are a very unpleasant sexually transmitted disease, in more than one way. First off, the warts are annoying and sometimes painful and can appear anywhere in the genital area, from the vulva to the vagina, the anus and even the cervix. In some cases, warts grow so large that they physically obstruct the birth canal. The second issue is that the strain of Human Papillomavirus that causes genital warts can be present without actual warts being there, or the warts may be so small the OBGYN does not diagnose them on time. In that case, the virus can be passed onto the baby during a vaginal birth. This can cause genital warts in the baby, but also warts inside the throat in rare cases.

Genital warts can be treated with cryotherapy, in which they are frozen, or laser therapy in which they are burned off. Topical creams take longer to work. Discuss the best options with your OBGYN, including possibly a c-section if you have warts around the time of your due date. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS are sexually transmitted diseases that are more complicated to deal with during pregnancy. For that reason, these diseases get their own blog posts. Follow the link to the post about hepatitis during pregnancy, and check back within the next week for more information about HIV during pregnancy.

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