Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are transmitted from one person to another through sexual acts. Many STDs can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact, blood-to-blood contact, or by sharing needles. Women can pass STIs to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth. 

Common Symptoms Of STDs

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding 
  • Skin rash 
  • Painful urination 
  • Painful sex 
  • Lumps or skin growth near anus or vagina 
  • Severe itching near genitals 
  • Smelly vaginal discharge 
  • Unusual discharge from the penis 
  • Aches, pains, and fever 

There are many STIs without any symptoms or mild symptoms due to which people do not realize whether they are infected. Therefore, they can easily pass on such infections to other sexual partners without knowing. 

Why you must go for a check-up before conceiving 

Dr Bharathi Ramesh, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology Motherhood Hospital Banashankari, Bangalore says, "If you think you may have an STD, it is better to know about it before you start planning a baby. This is because many women can pass the infection to the child. Such diseases can be harmful and pose several health risks for you and your baby. Therefore, screening usually takes place for STIs like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), hepatitis B, chlamydia for all pregnant women."

"Even if you may have gotten tested before pregnancy, you must go for screening again during pregnancy to avoid complications. Tell your doctor if you are suffering from any unusual symptoms, although some STIs are asymptomatic," she adds.

STIs can affect your baby Many STIs can affect the baby while still in the mother’s womb or during vaginal delivery. Dr Bharathi Ramesh tells us about some of these: 

Gonorrhea

gonorrhea std

If the mother is suffering from gonorrhea during pregnancy, it can lead to premature birth or low birth weight. The baby can develop an eye infection, blindness, or blood infections if the infection is active during pregnancy. 

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Mothers can easily pass HIV/AIDS to their babies during vaginal delivery or breastfeeding. However, today the transmission can be prevented through medications if the disease is diagnosed in the initial stages of pregnancy.  

Chlamydia

chlamydia std

Chlamydia may cause an increased risk of miscarriage and preterm delivery. During pregnancy, chlamydia may cause premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Babies can even have low birth weight and the infection can be passed on during vaginal delivery. Make sure you are retested within 3 months, to be certain the infection is gone, even if your partner has been treated. 

Also, chlamydia can lead to damage to the reproductive system. In women, chlamydial infection can spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can damage the fallopian tubes and uterus and cause chronic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy.

Syphilis

If a woman with syphilis gets pregnant or develops the disease during pregnancy, the baby is prone to high risks. Syphilis in pregnant women can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or the baby's death shortly after birth. Approximately 40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis can be stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn. The infection can lead to stillbirth or death after birth. If the infection remains untreated among the babies, it can affect their eyes, ears, skin, and bones. 

Hepatitis B

A pregnant woman with Hepatitis B virus, which causes liver infection, can transmit it to the baby through the placenta. The risk of transmission is higher if the pregnant woman is diagnosed with the infection close to the delivery. This can lead to premature delivery. However, early diagnosis, screening, and vaccination can prevent the transmission. 

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Preventing STDs 

prevent std

You can avoid STDs by not having sex with your partner who might be suffering from one of the infections. Other things you must follow to prevent STDs are: 

  • Have sex with an uninfected monogamous partner  
  • Do not keep any sexual contact (vaginal or anal intercourse) with a new partner and it is always better to get tested first. 
  • Vaccinate yourselves against hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV) 

 If you are planning a baby, be aware of STDs and learn about their signs and symptoms. If any symptoms are noticeable among you or your partner, go for a health check-up and stay in touch with your doctor. You do not have to worry if you are diagnosed with an STI, as many infections are curable.  

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Also, it is possible for women to enjoy a healthy pregnancy if they are taking the necessary treatment for the infection. Certain medications can reduce the risk of transmission of the infection from mother to child. The best way to avoid any STIs during pregnancy is to practice safe sex, even if you are not diagnosed with any infection before pregnancy.

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