Pregnant women are just as susceptible to STDs as anyone else who is sexually active. However, the consequences of contracting an STD or carrying an asymptomatic STD while pregnant are considerably more dangerous both for the woman and for her unborn child. Women, particularly when they are pregnant, need to be aware of the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and learn how to protect themselves against them.
STDs can be life-threatening in pregnancy. They can cause cancers, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and other complications. A further complication is that many of the STDs can be present without any symptoms. It is possible that premature labour, premature water breaking and postnatal uterine infections can be caused by the presence of one or more STDs in a pregnant woman.
Of course, one of the major risks is that the infection is passed onto the baby. This can occur in the womb via the placenta which can have serious consequences on the developing foetus. STDs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Hepatitis B can be passed from the mother to the baby during the birthing process. HIV can be transmitted while giving birth but also through breastfeeding. It is possible for a baby to be born without symptoms, only to find the effects appear months or even years later. Symptoms can include conjunctivitis which can lead to blindness, low birth weight, pneumonia, blood infections, hepatitis, meningitis, liver disease/failure.
Treatment of STDs in pregnant women is usually through antibiotics.