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Should I be tested for STDs during pregnancy?

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.

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 give a better overall prognosis for mother and baby.

If testing is not standard practise 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.

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:

  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • HIV

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.

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 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.

Stillbirth

Sadly, as well as premature birth, some STDs have been linked to stillbirth and, in rare cases, death shortly after birth.

Infections

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.