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STIs Can Affect Pregnancy And Infants

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections passed from person to person through sexual activity. Pregnant women with an STD may infect the baby or have pregnancy complications. Different STIs affect pregnancy and the baby in a variety of ways.

How Sexually Transmitted Infections Can Make Pregnancy More Difficult

Treatment is key

With all STDs, treatment prior to and during pregnancy is important. Most complications STDs can cause can be avoided with proper medical care during pregnancy. Some infections can be cured by antibiotics while some are viral infections and cannot be cured. However, taking antiviral medications or other preventive measures can reduce the risk of passing the infection to the baby.

Human papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI. HPV usually doesn’t present worrisome symptoms. Sometimes, however, genital warts may appear around the vagina. Extremely large warts can block the birth canal. Doctors may offer a cesarean section as an option. HPV treatment is usually delayed until after delivery.

Chlamydia

An asymptomatic bacterial infection, chlamydia has been linked with low birth weight and premature labor. Infants can be infected at birth and develop pneumonia or eye infections. Antibiotics during pregnancy and eye ointments for infants can prevent further infections.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that presents no obvious symptoms. During pregnancy, gonorrhea can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or infection of the baby at birth. These infections can result in severe eye infections, blindness, as well as blood and joint infections. Antibiotics are used to treat the mother and the infant, if infected.

Genital herpes

This STD can cause pregnancy complications during delivery. Any genital herpes present can increase the risk of infecting the baby during childbirth. Doctors may prescribe a cesarean section to avoid infection.

Hepatitis B

A liver infection, hepatitis B can be transmitted to the newborn baby or cause a premature delivery. Hepatitis may also cause low birth weight in infants. Antibodies can reduce the risk of infection if caught early enough.

Syphilis

This infection can be passed to the baby or, worse, cause a miscarriage. Syphilis can cause fatal infections that can lead to organ disorders. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics during pregnancy to reduce the high risk of infection.

Trichomonas vaginalis

Trichomonas vaginalis is a parasitic bacterial infection that can cause vaginal discharge. Newborns rarely become infected, but mothers may experience premature delivery. Trichomonas vaginalis can be treated with antibiotics.

HIV/AIDS

Advances in modern medicine mean that expectant mothers will not necessarily pass an infection to the infant. HIV treatment can drastically reduce the chances of the baby becoming infected. However, people should be aware that not being treated for another STD can increase risk of HIV infection.

Protection from sexually transmitted diseases

In order to reduce complications during and after pregnancy, women should protect against STDs by noticing symptoms and getting regular screenings. Prospective mothers should consult with a healthcare provider about receiving an STD screening to prevent pregnancy complications.

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