STDs and Pregnancy


The Florida Department of Health-Polk recently released their statistics on sexually transmitted diseases for 2015 in Polk County. Each day, 11 people in Polk County are diagnosed with an STD/STI. Half of those are teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. A total of 4,059 STD cases were reported in Polk County in 2015.

If you’re pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, do you need to know if you have an STD/STI?

Sexually transmitted diseases can lead to complications during a pregnancy, and can have serious effects on both you and your unborn child. While some of these issues may be able to be seen immediately after birth, others may not show up for months or even years after.

How can STDs/STIs affect the unborn baby?

Herpes is contracted by less than 0.1% of babies in the U.S. But for those who do contract it, it can lead to mental retardation, damage to the central nervous system, and even death. Your unborn child will be most at risk if you contract genital herpes during the pregnancy. This is because your body won’t have the antibodies to the virus to help shield the baby. For a first-time outbreak during delivery, the risk of transmission to the baby during delivery is 30 to 60 percent.

Bacterial vaginosis increases your chances for preterm labor and delivery. It is the most common vaginal infection for women of childbearing age, and as many as 16 percent of that population may have it. Women with a history of premature birth should be tested during pregnancy.

Chlamydia can be passed along to the baby during delivery. This can result in the newborn developing pneumonia, which can be fatal in newborns.

Trichomoniasis is linked to a higher risk of premature delivery, as well as early rupturing of the membranes (water breaking too early). If you have trichomoniasis, it can also make you more susceptible to contracting other STDs, such as chlamydia and HIV.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, has more than 100 different strains and is the most common STD in the U.S. While your risk for serious conditions, such as cervical cancer, may increase with HPV, the risk to your unborn baby is very low.

Testing can prevent health complications.

During your pregnancy, you should be tested for STDs/STIs to prevent serious health complications that may occur. You can contract an STD/STI even while you are pregnant, so if you are engaging in sexual activity while pregnant, you should continue to receive STD/STI testing throughout your pregnancy.

It is important for you to have open and honest conversations with your medical provider to ensure your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your unborn baby, during your pregnancy.

STDs/STIs can be treated during pregnancy.

If you are diagnosed with a STD/STI during pregnancy, you can be treated to lower the risk to you and your unborn baby. STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and BV can be treated and cured by antibiotics. If you are diagnosed with and STD/STI caused by a virus, there is no cure, however, antiviral medications and other preventive measures can lower the risk of passing the infection along to the baby.

If you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, STD/STI testing should be a part of your prenatal care. Options for Women can help.