What are the risks from getting pregnant when you have a STD? - Medicine Direct
Can an STD stop you from getting pregnant?
You can still get pregnant if you have an STD. However, if left untreated a STD can effect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Both past and present sexually transmitted diseases can cause infertility or a complicated pregnancy. STD effects on pregnancy can differ, depending on the infection and how long it is left untreated. One of the main reasons an STD can affect pregnancy is due to it causing scarring or inflammation. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a secondary infection which can occur after catching a STI. Developing inflammation does not always occur. Your chances of developing scarring are minimised the quicker you are treated for the STD. By getting regularly check after being with a new sexual partner, you reduce the risk of both contracting and passing on any STIs.
What effects can an STD have on pregnancy?
Each STD may effect your pregnancy differently. There is a lot of evidence to show the close link between STDs and infertility in both women and men. Two of the most common STIs which can prevent pregnancy are Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. Both of these STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. Chlamydia can also cause infection of the fallopian tubes. This is a serious condition which does not show any signs. As it is a ‘silent’ infection, women may be completely unaware and so are not treated quickly. Damage to the fallopian tubes and uterus caused by the scarring of STDs can lead to infertility.
PID also increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy which can be fatal if the pregnancy is not removed in time. Both Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia can also be passed on to the child during birth. In the case of Gonorrhoea, the baby may develop gonococcal conjunctivitis. If left untreated, this can cause scarring of the corneal and blindness. Both of these STDs can be treated with a course of antibiotics. It is crucial that you have regular screenings if you are changing sexual partners, so that you can quickly become aware if you have caught an STD. The longer an infection is left the bigger the chances of an STD stopping you from getting pregnant become.
Not all STDs can be treated with antibiotics if they are viral. One example of a common viral STD is genital warts, also known as HPV. Although genital warts won’t harm an unborn baby, they do pose a threat to your pregnancy. If pre-cancerous HPV cells develop on the cervix, they must be removed in a medical procedure. There are three different ways to remove HPV cells. A cone biopsy, cryosurgery and loop electrosurgical excision procedure. All of the procedures to remove the STD carry a risk of affecting pregnancy. They can weaken the cervix, which causes a cervical insufficiency. This condition can lead to miscarriage or premature birth as the cervix may open during pregnancy. The procedures can also reduce cervical mucus which makes it difficult for sperm to reach your eggs.
What are the signs of an STD I can look out for?
Unfortunately, many STDs are known as being asymptomatic. They are silent infections which you may not know you carry unless you are tested. However, there are some warning signs you can watch out for to protect against an STD having the chance to affect your pregnancy by treating it quickly.
Common symptoms include:
· Pain during or after sex
· Itching or bumps on the vagina
· Irritation or pain when urinating
· A change in discharge. It may become thicker, green or yellow.
· Bleeding or spotting from the vagina between periods.
· Flu like symptoms such as aching, tiredness and chills
How can I avoid an STD during pregnancy?
Many doctors will check you at your first pregnancy appointment for any sexually transmitted diseases. The test may be swabs from inside the vagina, urine samples or a blood test. It is recommended to ask your sexual partner to also have an STD screening. If you are tested as positive for an STI, your partner will also need to be treated to ensure reinfection does not occur. Using a condom with all untested or new partners is another good way to avoid contracting an STD. If you are trying for a baby, you may also want to try and reduce the amount of sexual partners you have, or practise monogamy to reduce your risk of infection.