For most women, expecting a baby is a joyous occasion. But in some cases, it can also be a time of nervousness when sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are part of the equation. Read on to learn more about how STDs affect babies and who is at the greatest risk.
One of the greatest predictors of sexual health is the status a woman has with her male partner according to the CDC. Maintaining a long-term relationship can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted disease transmission.
But even if a woman has only one partner, she may still be at risk if her male partner has risk factors such as multiple partners and unprotected sexual activity. This makes it important for women to understand her partner’s activities and to protect herself.
While relationship status is the greatest predictor, there are other factors that increase one’s risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease. For example, there is a direct link between living in poverty and STD infection.
Lack of access to medical services and homelessness are also big factors when it comes to STDs. Women who don’t have adequate resources are more at risk for this type of infection and less likely to get treated.
Women who are pregnant and at risk for sexually transmitted diseases should be tested for them. This allows health providers to treat some infections during the pregnancy and in other cases be prepared to deliver the baby in such a way that the risk of transmission to the baby during delivery is low.
While it would be best to be tested before becoming pregnant, testing as soon as possible during pregnancy will be beneficial for both you and the baby. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant are tested for STDs.
Treatment During Pregnancy
If you have an STD, your doctor may be able to treat it during pregnancy. For example, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis can all be treated with antibiotics and cured while you are pregnant.
However, viral illnesses such as herpes, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV cannot be cured. Some treatment can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and transmitting the diseases to the baby during delivery. Babies can also be treated and vaccinated right after birth for some viral illnesses. In the case of hepatitis C, there is no vaccine but babies can be monitored to determine if further treatment is needed.
Reducing Your Risk
The best thing you can do is prevent sexually transmitted infections so that you don’t develop an STD or have pregnancy complications. There are a few things you can do. The only 100% way to avoid STDs is to abstain from sexual activity. However, for most people sexual activity is part of typical relationships.
But being with a partner long-term in a mutually monogamous relationship can reduce your risk if that partner has been tested and is negative for STDs. You can also reduce the risk of transmission by using condoms correctly every time you have sex. Before seeking to become pregnant, make sure that both of you are tested and are free from STDs.