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24 Nov 2015
Sexually transmitted infections can continue to affect women during pregnancy and beyond. Even more worryingly, STIs can impact upon the health of the unborn baby – making it vitally important that pregnant women continue to use protection against the threat of infection and fully manage any pre-existing conditions.
Can I Still Catch an STI?
Pregnancy offers absolutely no protection against the transmission of infections, so you and your partner still run the same risk if either carry STIs. If you are not 100% sure about your partner’s STI status, it is important you continue to use condoms throughout the pregnancy.
As a number of STIs can remain symptomless even after infection, it is vitally important that you should be tested for any infections as part of your medical care during pregnancy — particularly given the attached risk of affecting the baby.
How Will STIs Affect Me?
The extra strain of pregnancy upon the body can intensify the effects of STIs on pregnant women. All women should be tested for STIs as part of a medical check during early pregnancy, and should make any existing infections known to the medical team as soon as possible. This can help the medical team and midwives manage the infection and minimise the effects on you, and reduce the risk of transferring the infection to the baby.
STIs which can be cured with antibiotics can be safely administered during pregnancy – so it is possible to rid the body of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Viral STIs such as genital herpes and HIV however cannot but cured, but antiviral medications could be used to manage the infection and reduce the chance it will transfer to the baby.
How Could STIs Affect the Baby?
Sadly, an untreated and unmanaged STI could cause long-term health problems for the baby. Some of these problems may be immediately clear at birth, or remain dormant for a number of years before taking effect.
Babies born to mothers with untreated chlamydia could become infected when passing through the birth canal – potentially leading to eye and lung infections. Similarly, gonorrhoea in the mother can cause eye infections for the baby, when passing through the birth canal.
More seriously, syphilis can lead to premature births, stillbirths and death shortly after birth. Untreated infants are also more likely to develop health issues in multiple organs. All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis in the first medical visit and during the third trimester.
HIV can be transferred from mother to baby during pregnancy, labour, delivery or through breastfeeding. However, when HIV is detected early and the appropriate treatment is administered – it can significantly reduce the risk of transferring the HIV.
Women with genital herpes are generally advised to deliver via a Caesarean section – helping the baby avoid contact with the infection in the birth canal.
How Can I Protect Against Infection?
The Baby Center confirms that it is perfectly healthy for many pregnant women to continue having sex right up until their water breaks. Sex during pregnancy will not harm the baby, and can be a brilliant way for a couple to remain close during this often stressful period. However it is still important to stay protected against the risk of infection.
Male and female condoms are the most effective form of protection against the spread of infections. Many forms of contraception only protect against pregnancy – so it is important to use condoms if you believe that you may be at risk of catching an STI.
At Freedoms Shop, we stock a huge range of top quality condoms from the world’s most-respected brands and manufacturers. For the full range, please visit our homepage or call us now on 020 7685 5977.