Sexually Transmitted Diseases
STDs
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        Bacterial Vaginosis
        Chlamydia
        Genital Herpes
        Genital Warts
        Gonorrhea
        Hepatitis C
        HIV & AIDS
        HIV Self Test
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        Syphilis
        Trichomoniasis
        Yeast Infections
        Condom Information
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        Female Condoms
        Dental Dam
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        STD News


Health Information:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Learn more about how to prevent and heal your body from these diseases:

   Venereal Diseases
   Bacterial Vaginosis
   Human Papilloma Virus
   Anal Warts

Shaving Prevention
Prevent pubic shaving sores that lead to open gateways for STDs.

   Razor Burn
   Ingrown Hair

Pap Smear
Pap smear test can detect early signs of HPV and help prevent cervical cancer.

   Pap Smear

Vaginal Yeast Infection
Yeast infections seem to be only rarely passed from one person to another through sexual contact.

A male partner of a woman with a yeast infection usually will have no symptoms, but some men may get an itchy rash on the penis.

   Vaginal Yeast Infection

 

STDs and Pregnancy : Should Pregnant Women be Screened?

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STD sexually transmitted diseases
Learn about the dangers of pregnancy and STDs.


Can pregnant women become infected with STDs?

Yes, women who are pregnant can become infected with the same sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as women who are not pregnant. Pregnancy does not provide women or their babies any protection against STDs. In fact, the consequences of an STD can be significantly more serious, even life threatening, for a woman and her baby if the woman becomes infected with an STD while pregnant. It is important that women be aware of the harmful effects of STDs and know how to protect themselves and their children against infection.

How common are STDs in pregnant women in the United States?

Some STDs, such as genital herpes and bacterial vaginosis, are quite common in pregnant women in the United States. Other STDs, notably HIV and syphilis, are much less common in pregnant women. The table below shows the estimated number of pregnant women in the United States who are infected with specific STDs each year.

STDs

Estimated Number of Pregnant Women

Bacterial vaginosis

800,000

Herpes simplex

800,000

Chlamydia

200,000

Trichomoniasis

80,000

Gonorrhea

40,000

Hepatitis B

40,000

HIV

8,000

Syphilis

8,000


How do STDs affect a pregnant woman and her baby?

STDs can have many of the same consequences for pregnant women as women who are not pregnant. STDs can cause cervical and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other complications. Many STDs in women are silent; that is, without signs or symptoms.

A pregnant woman with an STD may also have early onset of labor, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus, and uterine infection after delivery.

STDs can be passed from a pregnant woman to the baby before, during, or after the baby's birth. Some STDs (like syphilis) cross the placenta and infect the baby while it is in the uterus (womb). Other STDs (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes) can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during delivery as the baby passes through the birth canal. HIV can cross the placenta during pregnancy, infect the baby during the birth process, and unlike most other STDs, can infect the baby through breastfeeding.

The harmful effects of STDs in babies may include stillbirth (a baby that is born dead), low birth weight (less than five pounds), conjunctivitis (eye infection), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis (infection in the baby's blood stream), neurologic damage (such as brain damage or lack of coordination in body movements), blindness, deafness, acute hepatitis, meningitis, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. Some of these problems can be prevented if the mother receives routine prenatal care, which includes screening tests for STDs starting early in pregnancy and repeated close to delivery, if necessary. Other problems can be treated if the infection is found at birth.

Should pregnant women be tested for STDs?

STDs affect women of every socioeconomic and educational level, age, race, ethnicity, and religion. The CDC 2002 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases recommend that pregnant women be screened on their first prenatal visit for STDs which may include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Syphilis

In addition, some experts recommend that women who have had a premature delivery in the past be screened and treated for bacterial vaginosis at the first prenatal visit.

Pregnant women should ask their doctors about getting tested for these STDs, since some doctors do not routinely perform them. New and increasingly accurate tests continue to become available. Even if a woman has been tested in the past, she should be tested again when she becomes pregnant.

Can STDs be treated during pregnancy?

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomonas, and bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be treated and cured with antibiotics during pregnancy. There is no cure for viral STDs, such as genital herpes and HIV, but antiviral medication for herpes and HIV may reduce symptoms in the pregnant woman. For women who have active genital herpes lesions at the time of delivery, a cesarean delivery (C-section) may be performed to protect the newborn against infection. C-section is also an option for some HIV-infected women. Women who test negative for hepatitis B, may receive the hepatitis B vaccine during pregnancy.


How can pregnant women protect themselves against infection?

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. Genital ulcer diseases and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, syphilis, and chancroid only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.

 

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