STDs can be complicated and can be a significant health risk to women that are not pregnant, but how do sexually transmitted diseases affect women, and their unborn babies, during pregnancy? Our guide to STDs during pregnancy aims to answer your questions, and help you to understand what you need to do if you have an STD and are, or are trying to get pregnant and whether you should be tested for STDs during pregnancy.
So, should I be tested for STDs during pregnancy? You should be tested for STDs if you are pregnant, or are trying to conceive, as STDs can be a significant risk to both mother and baby. The earlier that any infections are caught and treated, the better the overall prognosis for the mother and baby.
Read on to learn more about why you should be tested for STDs if pregnant and the importance of it.
Should I Get Tested for STDs During Pregnancy?
You should be tested for STDs if you are pregnant, or are trying to conceive, as STDs can be a significant risk to both mother and baby. The earlier you can get tested the better as this gives you a better chance for infections to be caught and treated.
If testing is not standard practice as part of early pregnancy, it is recommended to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases as early as possible, particularly if the pregnancy was a result of a new sexual partner.
Do They Screen for STDs During Pregnancy?
Yes, you can be screened for STDs when pregnant, as pregnancy does not prevent you from contracting STDs any more than anyone else. You will be offered a blood test during your pregnancy which will test for multiple STDs to ensure that you and your baby are receiving the right medical attention.
What STDs are Checked for During Pregnancy?
Most healthcare providers will check for a variety of STDs as standard via a blood and swab test. These include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
If you think you might be at risk of any other STDs, it’s vitally important to mention this to your healthcare provider to ensure that it is treated effectively, where possible, reducing the risk of complication in pregnancy.
When Do They Test for STDs During Pregnancy?
Screening tests for STDs in pregnancy should be conducted as early as possible, definitely before the first scan. This is so care can be offered as soon as possible to help reduce the risk of the baby getting infected as well as worsening symptoms.
Not only should you have an STD screening done as a precautionary measure at the beginning of the pregnancy but also if you have sex with any new partners or start to experience any symptoms during the duration of your pregnancy.
What are the Risks of Getting an STD During Pregnancy?
STIs can have serious effects of expectant mothers and their unborn children. Some of these may be present at birth, however, some may not be seen until months or years later. Potential complications can include:
Passing on a STD to the unborn baby
Various STDs can be passed on to an unborn baby through labour via vaginal delivery and through breast feeding.
Premature birth or low birth weight
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and hepatitis C have all been linked to premature labour and low birth weight.
Sadly, as well as premature birth, some STDs have been linked to stillbirth and, in rare cases, death shortly after birth.
Various infections, including eye infections, blood infections, and pneumonia are possible complications for the child as a result of the mother having an STD when pregnant.
Brain damage, blindness, and deafness
Various serious conditions, such as brain damage, blindness, and deafness, are possible complications a baby might experience as a result of its mother having an STD during pregnancy.
Chronic liver disease
Chronic liver disease is another possible condition that a child may develop, particularly in relation to hepatitis C.
Can STDs be Treated During Pregnancy?
Treatment for STDs when pregnant depends entirely on the infection. However, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and BV can all be treated and cured with antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy.
Those STDs caused by viruses, such as genital herpes, hepatitis B, or HIV cannot be cured. They can, however, be treated with antiviral medication to reduce the risk of passing the infection to the child.
Private STD Testing at Your Sexual Health
Your Sexual Health offers a wide range of STD tests, available at private sexual health clinics across the UK. Choose from isolated tests to check for specific infections, or profile tests to check for multiple common STDs, ideal for if you’re trying to conceive and want to ensure that you are clear of STDs.