How do STDs affect pregnancy?

Can you get pregnant with an STD? Can a baby be born with an STD?

In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know.

At LetsGetChecked, we understand the complex area of STDs and pregnancy. We see high volumes of pregnant women contacting our medical teams, worrying about the possibility that they may have contracted an STD during pregnancy.


How does Chlamydia affect pregnancy?

Chlamydia is a very common STD that is easily treatable and also preventable. If you come into contact chlamydia when you’re pregnant, it can potentially increase the risk of miscarriage and also runs the risk of having a preterm delivery (birth of a premature baby).

When a baby has become infected with chlamydia, it tends not to cause a lot of significant damage to the newborn, however babies can get a chlamydial infection in their eyes.

If a baby is born and has an eye infection or visible pus in and around their eyes, one of the first things they will be tested for via a swab will be chlamydia. This is very easily treatable with antibiotic eye drops.

How does Gonorrhea affect pregnancy?

Gonorrhea is an STD that we regularly mention at LetsGetChecked for two reasons; one because it is heavily on the rise and two, gonorrhea has also become more resistant to antibiotics.

If a woman contracts gonorrhea during her pregnancy, similarly to chlamydia, it’s not an infection that will cause significant damage. However, it does potentially increase the risk of miscarriage and also runs the risk of having a preterm delivery.

On the occasion, a baby has been infected with gonorrhea, it can be evident in the form of an eye infection or pus in and around the eyes, that can be treated with antibiotic eye drops and an injection.

How does HIV affect pregnancy?

In all developed countries, women will be tested for HIV infection during pregnancy and at the beginning of their pregnancy.

If a woman did not get that test for whatever reason, for example if it was refused, and she got infected with HIV during pregnancy, this can lead to serious consequences for the baby.

The baby can potentially be infected with HIV after birth, unless the mother has received significant anti-HIV medication called highly active antiretroviral therapy, also known as HAART for short. This medication has been hughely successful in reducing mother to child transmission.

For further information about the effects of STDs on pregnancy, watch our short video with Dr. Dominic Rowley:

How does Syphilis affect pregnancy?

Syphilis is sometimes incorrectly seen as a medieval infection that people think that been gone for centuries, which is very untrue. In most developed countries, we are in the middle of a syphilis epidemic. Syphilis, like HIV, is part of the routine blood tests that all moms to-be are tested for when they first get pregnant.

However, it is possible for a pregnant woman to be infected with syphilis while pregnant, which can lead to very serious implications for a baby. Syphilis is very easily treatable with penicillin.

If a newborn baby goes untreated, syphilis can lead to blindness, deafness, bone deformities and hard palate deformities. Syphilis can be a very nasty infection with serious implications and should be tested for and avoided at all costs.

How does Herpes affect pregnancy?

When a woman has been infected with herpes before getting pregnant, there is no danger to the baby at all. The only time herpes can affect a baby is if the first set of herpes outbreak occurs during the pregnancy. In this case, your doctor will provide you with antiviral medication, which will not affect your baby.

If you develop an outbreak of herpes in the later stages of pregnancy, your doctor may decide that the best protocol would be a cesarean, also known as a c-section.

Where there is herpes outbreak or blisters around the vaginal area, and the baby is passing through the birth canal at the time of delivery, the baby can be infected with herpes.

Read More About STD Symptoms in Women

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley