STD's During Pregnancy
Consequences and Complications
Truth be told, pregnancy is no guarantee against sexually transmitted diseases, so pregnant women are as vulnerable to the very same STDs as those who are not pregnant. The devastating consequences of sexually transmitted diseases in women are well known and these very diseases can be dramatically more devastating and dangerous for pregnant women and especially for their unborn baby.
The truth is, STDs contracted during pregnancy can be life threatening. All women need to be educated and aware of the dangers and potential consequences of sexually transmitted diseases - before pregnancy - in order to be apprised of the methods of protection for both themselves and their yet-to-be-born children.
The end result of STDs in pregnant women can be exactly the same as in non-pregnant women, and these consequences can lead to such diseases as cervical and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and myriad other complications. Because there are often no obvious symptoms in women, sexually transmitted diseases can go unnoticed until such time as pregnancy occurs. For the pregnant woman, there are other complications that can occur such as the early onset of labor, premature rupture of membrane surrounding the baby and uterine infection after delivery of the baby.
Transference of STDs to Unborn Babies
There is a real danger of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases from the woman directly to her fetus, newborn, or infant which can occur at any stage - before, during or after birth. There are certain STDs which are able to cross the placenta and infect the baby en utero, potentially disrupting fetal development. Syphilis falls into this category. Other STDs, such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes can affect the baby, especially during vaginal delivery.
Women with HIV have a whole set of challenges to deal with, outside those noted above. HIV positive women can transmit the AIDS virus to their unborn child through the placenta during the pregnancy, or the baby can contract the virus during the birthing process. What is unique to HIV is the possibility of transference of the virus through the mother's milk while breastfeeding.
Sadly, not all of the possible consequences of infections sustained through STD infections will be apparent at the time of birth. There is often a time lag of months or even years in the discovery and exposure of sexually transmitted diseases contracted by children in the birthing process.