Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), commonly called sexually transmitted infections (STIs), can affect any sexually active person, including pregnant women. If you are pregnant, understanding the following things about STIs is important.
Do you need STI testing during pregnancy?
Having STIs during pregnancy can cause serious health risks for both the mother and child. The severe effects of STIs during pregnancy makes screening for STIs such as hepatitis B, syphilis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and chlamydia necessary during the first prenatal visit. Doctors recommend hepatitis C and gonorrhoea testing at least once during pregnancy for women with a high risk of having these infections.
STI testing during pregnancy is still important, even if you have tested for STIs in the past at a private sexual health clinic in London. Ensure you inform your doctor if you experience symptoms of an STI or engaged in any high-risk sexual activity.
How can having an STD during pregnancy affect a baby?
Having STIs during pregnancy may result in several complications, such as:
An infected pregnant woman can transmit HIV to her baby during pregnancy, vaginal delivery, labour, or breastfeeding. However, diagnosing HIV early in the pregnancy or before pregnancy helps you take steps that reduce transmission of the virus.
The highest risk of transmitting hepatitis B occurs when a pregnant woman gets infected close to her due date. The transmission of this infection is preventable if at-risk infants get treated after birth.
Chlamydia during pregnancy can cause premature birth, stillbirth and death after delivery in a few cases. Untreated chlamydia in infants increases the risk of multiple organ complications. Go for a treatment as soon as possible when you came to know that you are infected by STI.
Untreated gonorrhoea in pregnancy can cause premature birth, low birth weight and premature rupturing of the membranes. Transmission of gonorrhoea is possible during vaginal delivery.
Research suggests that hepatitis C infection in pregnant women increases the risk of low birth weight, small size compared to gestational age and premature birth.
Other complications and conditions that occur when babies contract STIs include:
- Eye infection
- Blood infection
- Chronic liver disease
- Brain damage
Treatment for STIs during pregnancy
Gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and some other STIs that can occur during pregnancy are curable with antibiotics. However, STIs such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, caused by viruses, do not have a cure.
The doctor may administer antiviral medications to reduce the risk of transmitting the viral infection to the baby. Mothers infected with HIV may have to deliver through a C-section.
How to prevent STIs?
Different ways can help to reduce the risk of having STIs. They include:
Abstain from sex
This is the most effective option for preventing STIs.
Have an uninfected partner
Engage in sexual activities with an uninfected, long-term monogamous partner.
Wait and verify
Avoid engaging in anal or vaginal intercourse with a new partner until you and the person get tested for STIs. Although oral sex is less risky, consider using a dental dam or latex condom to prevent direct contact with the genital and oral mucous membranes.
Always use condoms and dental dam correctly
Whenever you have oral, anal or vaginal sex, use a new dental dam or latex condom. Avoid using an oil-based lubricant such as petroleum jelly with a dental dam or latex condom. Condoms made from natural membranes are not effective in preventing STIs, which means they offer no protection.
If you experience symptoms of STIs or have a known exposure to an STI, ensure you go to a Private sexual health clinic in London to get tested. You can call 020 7359 9880 to book an appointment at Private GPs London for your STI testing.