Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes and HIV can seriously impact a pregnant woman as severely, if not more severely, than a non-pregnant woman. A woman who has an STD may develop cervical cancer and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis or other complications. A woman with an STD may have early labor, a premature rupture of the membranes or uterine infection after delivery.
Certain STDs may be particularly harmful to the baby of a woman with an STD. some STDs, such as syphilis, will actually cross the placenta and infect the baby while it is in the womb. Others, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and genital herpes can be transmitted from mother to baby during the birthing process. HIV may cross the placenta or may infect the baby during the birthing process; HIV may even infect the baby during breastfeeding.
STDs can affect the baby in a variety of ways. They may cause stillbirth, low birth weight, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, brain damage, blindness, deafness, meningitis, liver disease and cirrhosis.
Many STDs can be treated and/or cured with simple antibiotics. Some cannot. If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant you may wish to ask your physician for an STD screening. Some STDs may have no visible symptoms, yet can be extremely dangerous to your pregnancy and your baby. Some STDs are curable or treatable during pregnancy, and by receiving treatment you can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to your baby.