Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for a woman. She is embarking on a physical and emotional journey that no man will ever experience. Her body will change to support and nurture a new life.
A mother’s health is closely linked to the health of her developing child. This is why, for planned pregnancies, doctors suggest that women get themselves into as good shape as possible before starting on that incredible journey.
Sexual health is a part of pregnancy health. It only makes sense, since sex is what gets you pregnant in the first place, that other conditions transmitted during sex might affect your health and the health of your baby. Sexually transmitted diseases can affect the outcome of a pregnancy in several ways. They can:
- Affect a woman’s ability to carry the pregnancy to term - leading to premature labor, premature rupture of membranes (water break), or premature birth
- Infect the unborn fetus - causing illness, developmental problems, or death
- Injure the fetus without infection – some STDs increase the risk of low birth weight and other developmental problems.
- Infect the newborn at the time of birth or during breastfeeding
The effect an STD has on a woman’s pregnancy depends on several factors. The biggest factor is, of course, the particular disease she is infected with. However, another very important factor is when during her pregnancy she is exposed to the disease. The developmental stage of the fetus determines how vulnerable it is to each different type of infection. Some infections only cause problems during birth, while others are most problematic in the first few weeks of a pregnancy. If you are at risk of contracting an STD during your pregnancy, you should discuss with your doctor whether you should be screened at each prenatal visit.
Sexually transmitted diseases that can affect pregnancy outcome include:
There are many other infections that can affect the outcome of your pregnancy that aren’t sexually transmitted. You should talk to your doctor about what diseases you should be concerned about if you are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant.