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Used to Have STDs; What Pregnancy Concerns Should I Have?

About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Gonorrhea and treated. I then left the country for 6-8 weeks but still had symptoms and when I returned they found that I had also had Chlamydia and treated me for that. I was never diagnosed with PID. I never had any other STDs. I am now much older and thinking about getting pregnant. What are the chances of having problems, like scarred fallopian tubes?
~ Pregnancy Concerns

Dear Pregnancy Concerns,

Here's what The Cleveland Clinic says about Chlamydia and pregnancy:

"Pregnancy appears to be unaffected by chlamydia infection. However, infants who are exposed can get severe eye infections and pneumonia."

In addition, The Cleveland Clinic says the following about Gonorrhea and pregnancy:

"Gonorrhea is a very common STD, usually diagnosed by a Pap smear. If contracted during pregnancy, the infection causes fever, mouth sores, and bloodstream infections. The baby is usually unaffected, but if a baby is born while the mother has an active infection, the child can develop a severe eye infection."

Here is some general information provided by the CDC about STDs and pregnancy:

"STDs can have many of the same consequences for pregnant women as women who are not pregnant. STDs can cause cervical and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other complications. Many STDs in women are silent; that is, without signs or symptoms.

A pregnant woman with an STD may also incur early onset of labor, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus, and uterine infection after delivery.

STDs can be passed from a pregnant woman to the baby before, during, or after the baby’s birth. Some STDs (like syphilis) cross the placenta and infect the baby while it is in the uterus (womb). Other STDs (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes) can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during delivery as the baby passes through the birth canal. HIV can cross the placenta during pregnancy, infect the baby during the birth process, and unlike most other STDs, can infect the baby through breastfeeding.

The harmful effects of STDs in babies may include stillbirth (a baby that is born dead), low birth weight (less than five pounds), conjunctivitis (eye infection), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis (infection in the baby’s blood stream), neurologic damage (such as brain damage or lack of coordination in body movements), blindness, deafness, acute hepatitis, meningitis, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. Some of these problems can be prevented if the mother receives routine prenatal care, which includes screening tests for STDs starting early in pregnancy and repeated close to delivery, if necessary. Other problems can be treated if the infection is found at birth.

STDs affect women of every socioeconomic and educational level, age, race, ethnicity, and religion. The CDC 2002 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases recommend that pregnant women be screened on their first pre-natal visit for the following STDs:

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C

In addition, some experts recommend that women who have had a premature delivery in the past be screened and treated for bacterial vaginosis at the first prenatal visit. Pregnant women should request these tests specifically because some doctors do not routinely perform them. New and increasingly accurate tests continue to become available. Even if a woman has been tested in the past, she should be tested again when she becomes pregnant."

The STDs you mentioned (Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) can be treated and cured with antibiotics, according to the CDC. So that's good news for you. But it's important that you make a prenatal visit to a doctor for a screening and to have your questions/concerns addressed and answered based on the physician's examination of you.

If you have a question for the STD Advice column, simply put your question in the anonymous form below and click Submit. Once you click Submit, your question will be anonymously emailed to us. While we can't answer or publish all questions, we do try to questions within a one week period of submission. Check back to see if yours is answered.

Only a physician can properly diagnose whether or not you have an STD. Thus it is important that you get an STD test done if you have a concern. None of the advice given in this column is a substitute for physician advice.

If you think you may have a sexually transmitted disease, you should see a physician immediately to be properly diagnosed and treated. You should not try to diagnose or treat symptoms on your own.

Getting Help for an STD >

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