Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are sexually transmitted infections infected with a healthy person.
You can become infected through oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse. Sexually transmitted diseases should be treated, regardless of pregnancy. However, in pregnancy, they are dangerous not only for the woman but also for the fetus.
Like HIV infections, i.e., AIDS, some are not curable and can be fatal. At the first gynecological examination, the doctor will probably take all the necessary swabs. Still, in risky sexual intercourse, timely treatment is the best way to protect the woman and the fetus.
Sexually transmitted diseases are:
• HIV / AIDS
• Genital warts (HPV virus)
• Hepatitis B
Sometimes sexually transmitted diseases do not cause symptoms. When present, symptoms may include:
Growths, painful swellings, warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina
• Swelling or redness near the penis or
• Painful or painless skin rash
• Dysuria (pain when urinating)
• Weight loss, diarrhea, night sweats
• Pain, fever, chills
• Discharge from the penis or vagina
• Vaginal bleeding other than menstrual
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Severe itching of the penis or vagina
Sexually transmitted diseases can harm a child’s development during pregnancy, depending on the type of infection:
• HIV / AIDS: today, new drugs can almost completely prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. However, when this happens, the consequences are catastrophic – a child can develop HIV infection
• Herpes: herpes virus infection in pregnant women is relatively harmless until delivery. Active herpetic lesions in the genital area are highly contagious, and the baby can become infected by passing through the birth canal. The virus can also multiply sooner, so a woman can be contagious even before skin changes occur. Therefore, many women with a herpes infection give birth by cesarean section, thus preventing the virus’s transmission to the newborn.
• Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is a prevalent sexually transmitted disease. The vaginal swabs make the diagnosis. During pregnancy, it can cause vaginal discharge, dysuria, abdominal pain. A pregnant woman with untreated gonorrhea is at increased risk for miscarriage or premature birth. A baby born during an active mother’s illness may be blind, have joint inflammation, or life-threatening sepsis
• HPV (genital warts): This is a prevalent sexually transmitted disease. Genital warts are small cauliflower clumps that burn or itch. If a woman becomes infected during pregnancy, you may delay treatment until after delivery. Sometimes during pregnancy, due to the hormonal influence of the nipples. If they grow large enough to block the birth canal, the baby should be delivered by cesarean section.
• Chlamydia: chlamydia may increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Newborns who are exposed to the infection can get a severe eye infection or pneumonia
• Syphilis: syphilis is most commonly diagnosed by blood tests, although a syphilitic lesion can also be tested. Syphilis is easily transmitted to the fetus. It can cause a fatal infection in newborns. Children are often premature. Untreated children who survive the infection damage the brain, eyes, ears, heart, skin, teeth, and bones.
• Hepatitis B: it is a viral infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. A pregnant woman infected with hepatitis B can transmit the infection to the fetus through the placenta. Also, a baby can become infected at birth. Women with hepatitis B infection are more prone to premature birth. Fortunately, early screening and hepatitis B vaccine can prevent infection.
• Trichomoniasis: trichomoniasis is an infection that leads to yellow-green vaginal discharge and painful intercourse or dysuria. May increase the risk of premature birth. Rarely, a baby can become infected during birth and have vaginal discharge after birth.
At the first gynecological examination, the doctor will do the usual tests for the most common sexually transmitted diseases. You should pay special attention in the case of a new sexual partner in pregnant women.
Treatment of sexually transmitted diseases
The treatment of sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy depends on how advanced the infection is and the pregnancy stage. Many bacterial infections, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, are treated with antibiotics orally or parenterally (as an injection):
• HIV / AIDS: although an incurable disease, the transmission of the virus to a child can be prevented by multimodal therapy.
• Herpes. The doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug to treat the lesions. Women with active disease give birth by cesarean section to prevent transmission of the infection to the newborn.
• Gonorrhea: Pregnant women infected with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. Gonorrhea is often an asymptomatic disease, so the newborn is given intraocular medication after birth to prevent the development of an eye infection.
• HPV (genital warts): you may delay treatment of genital warts until after delivery
• Chlamydia: Pregnant women with chlamydia are treated with antibiotics. Newborns receive medication at birth that can prevent eye infection, but not pneumonia that can develop later
• Syphilis: Your doctor will prescribe therapy during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to the baby and prevent the progression of syphilis in the mother.
• Hepatitis B: If the mother is infected with hepatitis B, the newborn will receive an injection of antibodies to prevent infection.
• Trichomoniasis: pregnant women can be treated during pregnancy
How to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases:
• Abstinence, which is the only safe way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases
• Using condoms, especially in the case of multiple sexual partners
• By limiting the number of sexual partners
• Careful selection of sexual partners, exclusion of risky and polygamous persons
• Regular medical examinations. There is no need to risk transmitting the disease to a partner or child. The absence of a sexually transmitted disease in early pregnancy does not mean that a woman cannot become infected later in pregnancy. Risky sex always requires new testing
• By avoiding alcohol and drugs before sexual intercourse, entering into risky sexual intercourse is less likely. Also, alcohol and drugs can harm the developing fetus
• Knowing the symptoms and signs of sexually transmitted diseases and the ability to recognize them in yourself and your partner
• Learning about sexually transmitted diseases because more knowledge means better protection