As the name suggests, these infections, STIs (sexually transmitted infection), can spread through sexual contact from one person to another if unprotected sexual intercourse is practiced. STIs are widespread, and many can be treated easily. STIs, however, can complicate pregnancy for those who have them. Pregnant women may experience additional health concerns from STIs in addition to regular ones, such as stillbirth or early delivery. Health issues with the infant are another possibility. The majority of STI transmission occurs during unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with an infected person. Some STIs, including HIV, can spread in other ways, such as by sharing non-sterile needles.
Some STIs can also be transferred to the infant during nursing or childbirth. This article examines prevalent STIs, the risks they provide to expectant mothers and fetuses, and how a sexually transmitted infection can impact children. It also offers suggestions for both prevention and therapy.
In this Article
- 1 What Are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
- 2 STIs and Pregnancy
- 3 Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- 4 How STDs Affect Pregnancy
- 5 Treatment of Sexual Transmitted Diseases During Pregnancy
- 6 How To Protect Yourself From STDs?
- 7 Sexually Transmitted Infection and Breastfeeding: Is it Safe?
- 8 Can I give my child an STI?
- 9 How might a sexually transmitted infection impact my infant?
- 10 How can I prevent passing along an STD?
What Are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Sexual activity with a person who has an STI can transfer other infections known as sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. Sexual contact that takes place in the mouth, genital area, or vagina might spread STDs.
- Genital herpes.
- Hepatitis B.
- Genital warts.
- Trichomonas Vaginalis (“Trich”).
STIs and Pregnancy
A sexually transmitted infection can have an impact on both your pregnancy and your ability to conceive (fertility). The same STIs can infect pregnant women as well as non-pregnant ones. An STI infection during pregnancy can have major negative effects on both you and your unborn child.
Even if you have already undergone an STI test, it is advised that you do so again if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about your worries if you have any about this.
People who are pregnant and have an STI run the risk of infecting the unborn child as well as the developing fetus. For this reason, at your initial prenatal visit, your doctor will screen you for the majority of STIs. After your initial screening, you must have another test if you have intercourse with an affected person. The best approach to protect yourself and your child is to get treatment for STIs. Receiving treatment as soon as possible if you do get an STI while pregnant can lower your risks. Even if the sexually transmitted infection is incurable, there are steps you may take to safeguard yourself and your unborn child.
Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sometimes, there are no symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease. If they are, they might include:
- Near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina, lumps, lesions, or warts.
- Redness or swelling close to the vagina or penis.
- A skin rash
- Urination that hurts.
- Loss of appetite, loose stools, and night sweats.
- Aches, pains, chills, and a fever.
- Skin that has become yellow (jaundice).
- Leakage from the genital area (vaginal discharge might have an odor).
- Bleeding from the vagina that is not related to the monthly cycle.
- Intercourse is painful.
- Severe itching in the vagina or penile area.
How STDs Affect Pregnancy
Depending on the type of sexually transmitted disease you have during pregnancy, it could be harmful to both you and the unborn child.
HIV/AIDS: Transmission of HIV to your infant is considerably decreased or can be avoided thanks to the development of powerful treatments. But when the illness is passed on, the outcomes can be disastrous since the infant could get infected with HIV. If you are considering becoming pregnant, consult your doctor to learn what steps you should take to reduce the likelihood that the disease will pass to your unborn child.
Herpes: Up to the time of delivery, herpes infection in pregnant women is generally safe. Active genital herpes lesions are extremely contagious and can infect the newborn even before they are born. Babies who contract genital herpes may experience visual and central nervous system problems. A newborn’s herpes infection can become life-threatening and affect more than just the genital area. Additionally, the virus could start to grow and spread before any skin symptoms show up. To stop herpes from spreading to the unborn child, many women who are experiencing a herpes outbreak will undergo a C-section.
Gonorrhea: A test on a swab of vaginal fluid is typically used to identify this very common STD. The infection, if acquired while pregnant, may result in vaginal discharge, burning when urinating, or abdominal pain. Untreated gonorrhea during pregnancy may raise the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery. When a mother is pregnant and has an active illness, the infant may experience blindness, joint infections, or potentially fatal blood infections.
Genital warts: caused by HPV are a highly prevalent STD. Genital warts frequently take the form of little cauliflower-like clusters that can itch or burn. Treatment for genital warts acquired while pregnant might not begin until after delivery. Pregnancy hormones can occasionally cause them to enlarge. The infant could need to be delivered through a C-section if they become large enough to obstruct the delivery canal.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia might make premature birth and miscarriage more likely. Babies who are exposed may develop pneumonia and serious eye infections. Even if your partner has had treatment, make sure you are retested within 3 months to ensure the infection is gone.
Syphilis: Syphilis is often detected with a blood test, though it can also be done through a skin lesion. Your unborn child is easily exposed to syphilis. Your baby is likely to contract an extremely dangerous infection that could be fatal. The newborns are frequently preterm. Infants that live with untreated conditions often experience issues with their brain, eyes, hearing, hearts, skin, teeth, and bones.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver brought on by the hepatitis B virus. About 40% of the time, pregnant women with hepatitis B might pass the illness to their unborn child through the placenta. An infant who contracts hepatitis B can carry it for the rest of their lives, which can cause liver illness and even death. Thankfully, early detection and more widespread use of hepatitis B vaccination can stop illness. Additionally, there are drugs that can be administered to newborns shortly after birth to stop the mother’s hepatitis B from spreading to the child.
Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is an illness that can result in vaginal discharge that is yellow-green and hurts during intercourse or while emptying the bladder. It might make having a premature baby more likely. Rarely, the newborn may contract the infection while being delivered and experience vaginal discharge.
Treatment of Sexual Transmitted Diseases During Pregnancy
The course of an STD during pregnancy depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy and how far along the infection has advanced. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial sexual transmitted disease, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, either intravenously or orally. The following are typical therapies for STDs in expectant mothers and newborns:
HIV/AIDS: Drugs can lower HIV to an undetectable viral load, among other low levels. By taking numerous drugs, you can stop the infection from spreading to your unborn child.
Herpes: To treat these lesions, your doctor may give antiviral medications. To avoid passing the virus to the unborn child, women who have active herpes lesions at the time of delivery will likely undergo a C-section.
Gonorrhea: Antibiotics can be used to treat the infection in pregnant women. All neonates receive eye medicines at birth to prevent the development of gonorrhea eye infection because gonorrhea frequently has no symptoms.
Genital warts: caused by HPV may not be treated until after delivery if they develop during pregnancy. Although the virus never exits the body, warts can be removed surgically or with medication. While larger, more irritating warts can be removed surgically or chemically by burning them with acids. Small warts don’t need to be treated.
Chlamydia: Antibiotics are used to treat mothers who have the disease. The medication given to all babies to stop gonorrhea eye infections also stops chlamydia from attacking the eyes, but it cannot stop pneumonia, which could later occur. Even if your partner has had treatment, you should still be retested within 3 months to make sure the infection has truly disappeared. The antibiotic doxycycline shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy since it can stain your unborn child’s teeth. Today, it is common practice to apply ointment to a newborn’s eyes to avoid conjunctivitis brought on by a mother’s chlamydia infection, which, if left untreated, can result in blindness.
Syphilis: To lessen the chance of passing the infection to your unborn child and to prevent syphilis from getting worse in you, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics during your pregnancy.
Hepatitis B: If you have the disease, your doctor will inject your infant with antibodies to keep them from contracting the disease.
Trichomoniasis: Pregnant women who have the infection may be given medicine to treat it. To stop reinfection and further illness spread, you should also treat your spouse at the same time. Even if your spouse has had treatment, you should get retested three months later to make sure the infection is gone.
It is crucial that you take all of your medication if an antibiotic is prescribed to treat a sexual transmitted disease, even if the symptoms go. Additionally, never use another person’s medication to treat your sickness. You might make it harder to treat the infection by doing this. In the same way, you shouldn’t give anyone else your medication.
How To Protect Yourself From STDs?
Here are some fundamental precautions you may take to avoid getting an STD:
- Remember that the only surefire way to avoid getting an STD is to never have sex.
- Every time you have sex, especially if you have multiple sex partners, use a latex condom. Make sure the lubricant you use is water-based if you do use one.
- Do not have too many sexual partners. You are more prone to contract an STD if you have more relationships.
- Maintain monogamy, which means sex with just one person. To lessen your risk, that person must likewise solely have sexual relations with you.
- Pick your sex partners wisely. Don’t engage in sexual activity with someone you think might have an STD or who has multiple partners.
- Get tested for STDs. Don’t take a chance on infecting someone else or your baby. It does not imply that you cannot develop an STD later on in your pregnancy just because you had an early pregnancy STD screening. You require further screening tests if you have had unprotected intercourse with more than one partner since your most recent STD test. Additionally, if you suspect your partner of engaging in unprotected intercourse with others, you should be concerned.
- Never use drugs or alcohol before having sex. If you are intoxicated or high, you may be less inclined to engage in safe sex. Additionally, drugs and alcohol might be harmful to the unborn child.
- Understand the symptoms and indicators of STDs. Examine yourself and your sex partners for them.
- Study up on STDs. The more you are aware of STDs, the better able you are to safeguard yourself.
Sexually Transmitted Infection and Breastfeeding: Is it Safe?
Some STIs interfere with breastfeeding while others don’t. The following are some general recommendations, however for information specific to your situation, consult your physician, a nurse, or a lactation consultant:
Do not breastfeed if you are HIV positive. Your infant could get the infection from you. Using a breast milk substitute like formula is advised in nations where clean water is accessible.
You can nurse your baby even if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HPV.
If you have trichomoniasis and are breastfeeding, you can take the antibiotic metronidazole. If you plan to breastfeed after taking the medication, you may need to wait 12 to 24 hours.
You can breastfeed if you have syphilis or herpes as long as neither your infant nor the pumping equipment touches a sore. Any area of your breast, such as your nipple and areola, could get infected with syphilis or herpes. Until the blisters on your breast have healed, pump or manually express your milk. By pumping, you can maintain your milk production and prevent your breasts from becoming too swollen and uncomfortable. You can save your baby’s milk in a bottle for later feeding. However, you should discard the milk if any parts of your breast pump accidentally touch the sore(s) while you are pumping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I give my child an STI?
Yes. Some STIs can be transferred from a pregnant mother to the fetus both before and after delivery.
Some STIs, like syphilis, pass through the placenta and infect the unborn child.
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes are a few other STIs that can be transmitted from the mom to the fetus during delivery.
During pregnancy, the unborn child can be infected with HIV through placental transmission.
How might a sexually transmitted infection impact my infant?
Some STIs, including syphilis and HIV, have the ability to infect an unborn child while it is still in the mother’s womb. Others, including genital herpes and chlamydia, can infect the newborn during delivery.
STIs can seriously endanger the health of unborn children. These include premature birth, poor birth weight, infection transfer to the newborn, sickness, birth abnormalities, and death
Regular prenatal care and talking to your doctor or midwife about any STI-related worries you may have will help to lower the risk of any complications brought on by STIs during pregnancy.
How can I prevent passing along an STD?
- Stop having relations until you receive medical attention.
- Follow the treatment recommendations given to you by your doctor.
- When having sex, especially with new partners, always use condoms.
- If your doctor has not previously given the all-clear, don’t start having intercourse again.
- Revisit your doctor once again and get rechecked
- Don’t forget to treat your sex partner or partners as well.
Whether or not you are pregnant, STDs are severe illnesses that need to be treated. People who are pregnant have an equal chance of contracting the disease as those who are not. But you are not the only one at risk when you are expecting; numerous STDs can be particularly dangerous to both you and your unborn child. Regular STI testing should be done on women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Those who test positive for STIs while pregnant must adhere to a doctor’s treatment recommendations. Depending on the infection type, doctors will talk about several therapies. As a result, there will be a lower probability of pregnancy difficulties and the infant contracting the infection. The greatest approach to safeguarding you and your child is with prompt treatment.