Written on December 19, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life. Your body is experiencing a lot of changes, and it can be difficult to keep up with everything. You’re growing a new human! You likely have many questions about what to expect during this time. You may be wondering, "what types of tests are done in pregnancy?" or "when do they test for STDs during pregnancy?"
Yes, you can. Pregnant women are susceptible to the same sexually transmitted infections as women who aren’t pregnant. The ramifications of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during pregnancy can be more serious than in non-pregnant women. In some cases, your baby can be affected by the infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases can be serious and affect both you and your unborn baby. Some infections, such as HIV, can be transmitted and infect your baby, while others can cause complications such as preterm labor. The earlier STDs are detected, the sooner they can be treated, and the less likely they are to cause problems in your pregnancy.
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It can affect fertility and can lead to an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside of the uterus). Chlamydia can cause vaginal discharge, pain with urination, and pelvic pain. Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms at all.
In pregnancy, you should be tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit and again in the third trimester if you have one of the following risk factors :
If you are diagnosed with chlamydia during pregnancy, you should be retested to make sure the infection is cured three to four weeks after you’ve been treated and then retested again within three months.
Gonorrhea is another common sexually transmitted infection. Gonorrhea is most common in people aged 15-24. Gonorrhea may be asymptomatic or may cause vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, or pain with urination. Gonorrhea may also cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhea is easily treated with antibiotics, and early treatment decreases the risk of complications from infection. Gonorrhea can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, premature rupture of membranes, or infections of the amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you should be tested at your first prenatal visit and again in the third trimester if you have one of the following factors that make you high risk :
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted. It is one of the TORCH infections that are associated with significant congenital problems during pregnancy. There has been a significant increase in cases of syphilis transmitted to babies during pregnancy in the United States over the past several years. Syphilis can cause premature birth, stillbirth, and neonatal death. It is also associated with problems in the brain, eyes, ears, heart, skin, teeth, and bones of infants.
When you are pregnant, you should be tested for syphilis at the first prenatal visit. You should also be tested at 28 weeks of pregnancy and again at delivery if you are at an increased risk for the condition. High risk factors include :
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver. It can be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy. People with hepatitis B are at an increased risk of liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis B status is generally checked with the initial prenatal labs.
HIV is a viral infection that affects the immune system. HIV can be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. It is typically tested with the initial prenatal labs and should be retested in high-risk individuals in the third trimester and at delivery. High-risk individuals include women who :
There are 2 forms of Herpes simplex which can affect the genital tract or cause mouth sores. These are called Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). If you have a history of HSV infection, specifically genital herpes infection, you should be treated with medication to prevent an outbreak, starting at 35 weeks. Routine testing for HSV infection is not recommended in people without symptoms, including pregnant women.
STDs are serious and can have a long-term impact on your health. If untreated, STDs can be life-threatening. STDs in pregnancy can affect both you and your baby. Take charge of your sexual health. If you are concerned about STDs, Everlywell has at-home lab tests to evaluate for STDs. We also have clinicians who can provide telehealth visits to discuss your situation and give you advice on how to protect yourself.
Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.