Identifying STDs During Pregnancy

December 14, 2007

Every year in America, nearly two million pregnant women are diagnosed with a STD.  A STD is a sexually transmitted disease that can have difficult consequences both for you and for your baby.  If you know what to look for, both on yourself and your partner, it can help you to prevent STDs and to get treatment if you think that you might have one of these diseases.  Here is some important information about STDs during pregnancy.

Which Diseases Are STDS and What Do They Look Like?

STDs include Herpes, HIV, Genital Warts, Hepatitis B, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Trichomoniasis. The symptoms for each disease can vary, and sometimes there are no symptoms at all. This is obviously the most difficult situation, because you may not realize that you have a STD.  While most doctors will screen for STDs at your first prenatal visit, it is important to check with the doctor to make sure that he is doing so.  In addition, should you have further unprotected sex during your pregnancy, after your screening test, you need to have your doctor do another screening test.  If there are symptoms, they often include bumps, sores or warts near the mouth or near the genitals. You might also find sex or urinating painful.  You may experience weight loss, loose stools or night sweats.  You can have aches, pains, fevers and chills.  You could have discharges from the genitals and bleeding from the vagina at times that are not during your regular cycle.  Finally, you might find that the genitals itch a great deal.  

How Can You Protect Yourself From STDs?

Obviously, the best way to protect yourself is to abstain from sex.  This is the only guaranteed way to avoid an STD.  Other options can certainly help you to reduce the risk.  These include using a latex condom every time that you have sex, and making sure to use it correctly each time.  Limit your number of sex partners or practice monogamy.  Select your partner or partners carefully.  Get checked periodically for STDs.  This is important to do whether or not you are pregnant.  Just because you've been screened once doesn't mean that you might not have contracted an STD since that screening.   Know the signs and symptoms of STDs and look for them, both in yourself and in your partners.  Finally, don't use drugs or alcohol prior to having sex.  You may be at higher risk for engaging in activities without taking safety precautions.  And, of course, these substances are terrible for your growing fetus.

How Can You Avoid Spreading a STD?

If you've discovered that you have a STD while you are pregnant, or you think that you might, make sure not to have sex until you've begun treatment.  Your health care provider will let you know how long treatment will last and what you can expect from treatment.  Use condoms whenever you have sex.  Make sure to return to your health care provider often to get rechecked and to ensure that you are clear of the STD.  Make sure, as well, that any partners are also being treated. 


STDs can be very dangerous both for you and for the baby during pregnancy.  Know how to protect yourself so that you can ensure a healthy pregnancy.

 

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