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Can STDs Cause Infertility or Pregnancy Complications?

If you’re ready to start a family, it’s a good idea to get screened for STDs beforehand, as some can harm pregnancy and childbirth. In this article, we discuss how you can use STD tests to encourage a healthy pregnancy, and we also discuss the dangers of STDs to infants. 

How do STDs affect pregnancy? The results of some STDs can have a life-changing impact on your and your baby. HIV and gonorrhea can increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery. STDs, such as syphilis, can cause health complications to your baby including infections in the heart, eyes, and brain. 

Read on to find out more about which STDs can affect conceiving and pregnancy, as well as the best way to minimise the risk of spreading STDs to your child.

How Do STDs Affect Pregnancy?

STDs while pregnant are serious, and most require medical treatment. If you are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant be mindful that STDs won’t just affect you, but they may affect your baby too. Here are some of the ways STDs can affect you or your child before, during, or after pregnancy. 

  • Some STDs make it harder to conceive a child
  • Complications could arise during pregnancy from STDs
  • Your baby may become harmed or ill during pregnancy or birth 
  • There may be an increased risk of miscarriage or preterm labor

Can STDs Be Passed On To A Baby?

Yes, some sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Read on to find out which ones can be transmitted, and the impact they could have.


HIV is a serious condition that can develop into AIDS. During pregnancy, HIV could be passed on to the child through the placenta and infect the fetus. During birth, the baby is also exposed to other bodily fluids and blood, increasing the risk of transmission. Medication, including antiretroviral drugs, can be taken during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of transmission. 


Syphilis can be a dangerous infection for babies. The bacterial infection could be linked to an increase in miscarriages, stillbirths, or sometimes infant death post-birth. Syphilis is usually passed on during pregnancy, but the infection could also be passed on if the baby comes into contact with a sore during birth.


Untreated gonococcal infections during pregnancy can sometimes increase the risk of premature births and low birth weight. Babies can get infected during birth, which may cause eye infections if left untreated. 


While you can have a mostly healthy pregnancy if you have chlamydia, you can risk infecting your baby during birth. If your newborn contracts the infection, they could develop conjunctivitis and pneumonia. This isn’t common, as chlamydia is safe to treat with antibiotics during pregnancy.  


Genital herpes, if the mother has an active outbreak during childbirth, could be passed onto a newborn. Contact with open sores can cause neonatal herpes, which affects the eyes, mouth, or skin. Neonatal herpes could be fatal in extreme cases, so doctors will usually offer a Cesarean section, to help reduce the risk of transmission. 


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is known for causing genital warts, or in worst cases, cancer. While most people have come into contact with HPV during their lifetime, the virus is only harmful to your baby if they come into contact with warts during delivery. In the rare case that this happens, the baby may develop respiratory papillomatosis.

What STDs Should You Test For At The Start Of Pregnancy?

At a minimum, you should get an STD screening for all infections and viruses that could be passed onto your child either during pregnancy or childbirth. Usually, you’ll be screened for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis during your antenatal screening, if it’s done through the NHS. 

For full peace of mind, try our Comprehensive IVF Screening, which isn’t just for those undergoing IVF treatment, but is also for those trying to conceive a baby naturally. To read more about pre-pregnancy STD screening, read our recent blog post

Can STDs Make It Harder To Conceive?

If left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility and decrease the chances of getting pregnant. Gonorrhea and chlamydia, both treatable STDs, can sometimes cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Having PID can cause inflammation of the cervix, which can make it difficult for sperm to reach and fertalise the egg. Remember, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease only has the chance to develop if the infections are left untreated, so get tested regularly.

To increase your chances of successful conception, you may want to get preconception STD testing for you and your partner, so that any infections can be found and treated accordingly. 

Can You Get Pregnant With An STD?

Yes, you can still get pregnant with most STDs. While it isn’t advisable to conceive before STD treatment, it can still be done. If you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, make sure to get the appropriate treatment first, to encourage a healthy pregnancy. If you have an incurable STD while pregnant, such as herpes or HIV, speak to your doctor about the ways to reduce the risk of transmission. 

How Do STDs Affect IVF Treatment?

Some STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can make it harder to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. IVF clinics will ask you to undergo some form of STD test before starting treatment, to ensure the treatment has the best chance of producing a healthy baby. 

Which STD Test Do You Need Before IVF Treatment? 

The majority of IVF clinics will ask you to undergo basic STD screening to encourage the best chances of conceiving a child through IVF treatment. If you’re using the NHS, you and your partner will have blood tests, including tests for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

However, there are more STDs than the ones mentioned above that can cause pregnancy and childbirth complications. To encourage a successful IVF pregnancy, try our Comprehensive IVF Screening, which is more in-depth than tests available on the NHS. We also offer a Standard IVF Screening, which tests for urine-based STIs. 

Pre-Pregnancy STD Testing With Your Sexual Health

To encourage the best chances of having a healthy pregnancy and childbirth, get a pre-pregnancy STD test with Your Sexual Health. We have a variety of testing options, so you can find something that suits you. 

Visit one of our 100 clinics nationwide, or order a discreet home testing kit. We also have nurse home visiting options available if you need more assistance. Get in touch with our friendly team if you have any questions, or need advice.