Pregnant Women Urged To Be Tested For STDs In 2019

A spike In STDs Cases

Sexually transmitted diseases can affect anyone who is sexually active, regardless of age and gender. Some people are at a higher risk of obtaining disease, and there are also some people who are at risk of experiencing more serious complications should they be infected with an STD. Pregnant women are one class of individuals who come to mind when we look at people who should be more concerned about infections and diseases that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. Pregnant Woman

With the recent increase in the prevalence of multiple STDs among the population, including pregnant women, people are urged to undergo frequent testing for these common STDs. Pregnant women are also now urged to understand that many treatments have been developed that can assist in treating their STDs during pregnancy and reduce the risk of the disease being transmitted to their unborn child. 

How Common Is STD-Related Complications In Pregnant Women

While accurate statistics are not available regarding the specific number of women who experienced complications with their pregnancy caused by an STD on an annual basis, it is estimated that up to 40% of women who become infected with a condition such as gonorrhea will go on to develop a complication that can affect their pregnancy1. In many of these women, gonorrhea may even lead to infertility, making it impossible to have children later in their lives. Women who do get pregnant may also experience complications such as an ectopic pregnancy. 

It is also estimated that up to 40% of women who are pregnant and contract syphilis, with a focus on those who are not treated in the earlier stages, experience neonatal or fetal death of their unborn baby. 

Common STDs That Pregnant Women Should Be Tested For

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a statement, advising pregnant women to become more aware of common STDs found in the general population that can cause them to experience complications with their pregnancy. Women who are sexually active and pregnant are advised to get tested for these STDs. Furthermore, women planning to become pregnant should ensure they are aware of any STDs they have already contracted, and those appropriate treatments are provided to them in order to control the disease and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. 

Below, we look at some particularly important STDs that women should be wary of2 and get tested if they are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future, or if they have already fallen pregnant. 

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can be cured with the right treatment. The condition is transmitted through bacteria, and a woman can contract the infection through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Many women may not experience any symptoms, which makes it even more important to get tested for Chlamydia – even pregnant women may not experience any symptoms when they contract the infection. Complications with pregnancy may include preterm labor, a low birth weight, or a rupture of the membranes at a premature time. 

Hepatitis B & C

Both Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that affect the liver. It is important for women to realize that both of these Hepatitis viruses can be transmitted to their unborn baby, and may lead to a large number of infections. When the infection is carried down to an unborn baby, they may become chronic HBV carriers. They are also likely to develop chronic liver disease, and their risk of liver cancer is greatly increased, which may not occur immediately, but rather later in their lives. 

HIV

HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a well-known disease that causes millions to die of complications each year. Pregnant women should understand that they are able to pass the virus to their child during pregnancy. The virus can also be transmitted to the baby during breastfeeding. There are effective measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk of an HIV-positive mother passing the virus to her baby, both during and after pregnancy. 

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection transmitted through sexual intercourse and is very common. The condition can be carried down to a baby during pregnancy, as well as during the delivery of the baby. Gonorrhea can cause a number of complications, including low birth weight, miscarriages, chorioamnionitis, and premature birth. The infection can be treated with antibiotics. Early intervention can help to prevent pregnancy complications and spreading the bacteria to the baby. 

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis has spread through the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite and causes a vaginal infection in affected women. In most cases, symptoms will not be present, but some women do experience pain, an odor from the vagina, which can be accompanied by a discharge. In pregnancy, Trichomoniasis can cause the membrane to rupture prematurely. The condition has also been linked to preterm birth, as well as low birth weight. 

Syphilis

Syphilis is highly treatable, but it can cause serious complications if not treated early. The condition can also lead to serious and harmful complications in pregnancy, including congenital syphilis. Syphilis can also cause other complications during pregnancy, including premature birth and stillbirths. There are also cases where the baby dies shortly after they have been born. 

Human Papillomavirus

HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, refers to a number of viral infections that tend to affect the vagina, external genitalia, and the cervix in women. The most common complication that a pregnant woman may experience with HPV is a blockage of their birth canal, which may call for a cesarean section instead of natural delivery of the baby. The unborn baby may also develop laryngeal papillomatosis.

Herpes

Herpes is another condition that can lead to complications with pregnancy, primarily during birth. Up to 30% of pregnant women in the United States have been diagnosed with genital herpes, and in approximately 0.1% of these cases, the herpes simplex virus spreads toward the infant during birth, as the virus sits in the birth canal while delivery is in progress. In turn, this causes the baby to develop a condition known as neonatal herpes. In some cases, it can become fatal. The condition may lead to permanent damage to the baby’s central nervous system, leading to issues such as mental retardation. With early treatment, the risk of spreading the virus to the infant can be reduced. 

Conclusion

Acquiring an STD or already having an STD during pregnancy can cause complications. The disease may be transmitted to the unborn and possibly lead to birth defects, as well as a higher risk of the unborn baby dying prior to birth. Pregnant women have now been urged to get tested for common STDs, as we are at a time in medical sciences where many of these complications can be effectively avoided, as long as they are detected and treated at an early stage. 

References

1 Statistics on HIV/AIDS, STDs and Unintended Pregnancy. Illinois Department of Public Health

2 STDs during Pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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