Treating STDs During Pregnancy

December 14, 2007

It can be very stressful for a woman to discover that she has an STD when she is pregnant.  How will the STD be treated?  How will the baby be influenced by this disease? These are important issues to address and ones that can help a woman to have a healthier pregnancy, and a better chance at delivering a healthy baby.

The Dangers of STDS During Pregnancy

Sexually Transmitted Diseases affect approximately two million pregnant women in the United States each year.  Pregnancy does not offer any protection at all against STDs and it is important to know what to do when you find out that you have an STD.  Many doctors today do a screening for STDs during the first prenatal visit.  You can, therefore, find out very early on in the pregnancy if you have an STD.  STDs can lead to many problems - both in pregnant women and in those who are not expecting.  Such consequences include cervical cancer and other cancers, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.  For the baby, the consequences can be truly terrible.  The baby may experience everything from HIV to blindness and more.

Treating STDs

Many STDs can be treated during pregnancy.  In is important to treat these diseases because some STDs pass through the placenta and the baby can contract them while in the womb.  Other diseases are only contracted by the baby during delivery, as it goes through the vaginal canal.  For this reason, some doctors will do a Cesarean section rather than allow the woman to have a vaginal delivery.  Still other diseases, such as HIV, can be transmitted through breastmilk.  HIV is incurable in the mother, but can be prevented in the baby with a large number of medications.  If untreated, the baby can develop HIV and die of the infection.  Herpes is transmitted during delivery.  Women with Herpes will be given antiviral pills to treat the lesions and may have to have a Cesarean birth.   Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.  This common STD can cause increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and blindness in the baby when left untreated.  Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics; untreated cases can cause miscarriage and preterm delivery, and may cause eye infections and pneumonia in the baby.  Syphilis is treated with medication during the pregnancy, as it is easily passed on to the unborn child.  It can cause fatal infections in newborns and premature births.  Babies who survive from untreated women often have many organ problems including problems with the brain, eyes, ears and more.

More Treatments for STDS

A few other common STDs during pregnancy include Genital Warts, Chlamydia and Hepatitis B.  Genital Warts may not be treated until after delivery because it's possible for the hormones from the pregnancy to make the warts grow larger.  If the warts are large enough, it may be necessary to have a Cesarean delivery.  Chlamydia can cause miscarriages and preterm deliveries.  Babies born with this can have terrible eye infection and pneumonia.  It can be treated with antibiotics during the pregnancy.  Hepatitis B can be transmitted through the placenta.  Today, there is a lot of early screening and more vaccines that keep people from getting this disease.  Babies who are exposed to it, however, will get a shot of antibodies to prevent him from becoming infected.

The Best Treatment

The best treatment for STDs, obviously, is not to need one at all.  Remaining in a monogamous relationship, using latex condoms consistently and correctly, and abstaining from sex are all ways to help to prevent STDs.  Should you be at risk for an STD, however, it is very important to have a screening test done and to know your treatment options during pregnancy.  This will help to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

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