Pregnant With STDs: What Are The Risks to Me and My Baby?

Updated: May 29, 2019

We don't discuss STDs much. It's pretty hush hush in America. What's discussed even less is STDs and pregnancy. Can you get an STD while you're pregnant? What are the effects on my pregnancy? On my baby? How can I prevent it? These are the questions we should be asking.

So today I'm going to be sharing a bit about different STDs' effects on pregnancy and any risks to the pregnancy or the baby. I'll also leave some links at the bottom if you want more information on a particular topic.

Without further ado, let's do this!

1. Chlamydia:

  • Most people who have chlamydia don't show any symptoms. Possible symptoms include abnormal discharge, bleeding after sex, or itching/burning during urination.

  • Untreated chlamydia has been linked to problems such as preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes (water breaks), and low birth weight.

  • Babies who are exposed at birth can develop eye and lung infections.

2. Gonorrhea:

  • Gonorrhea is another one that often doesn't show any symptoms. Possible symptoms include abnormal discharge, abdominal pain, pain in the pelvis, and burning during urination.

  • It's been linked to miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes, premature birth, low birth weight, and choriamnionitis (intraamniotic infection - inflammation of the fetal membranes and chorion of the placenta).

  • If exposed at birth newborns may develop an eye infection.

3. Hepatitis B:

  • Hepatitis B can be transmitted to the unborn baby during pregnancy. The greatest risk for this is when a woman becomes infected close to the time of the birth.

  • Infected newborns have a high risk of being chronic HBV carriers.

  • Those who have HBV lifelong are at risk of developing chronic liver disease or liver cancer later in life

4. Hepatitis C:

  • Hepatitis C can be transmitted to the unborn baby during pregnancy, although it's not as common as with Hepatitis B (only 10% of the time). Chances are higher for women who are HIV positive.

  • May cause small for gestation age babies, premature birth, and low birth weight.

  • Normally newborns don't show any symptoms and a majority will not need medical assistance to treat it.

5. Herpes:

  • A herpes infection of a newborn is the biggest concern. HSV (herpes) can be deadly to newborns even if it's contracted after the birth from a family member with an active oral outbreak (often referred to as a cold sore).

  • It can be transmitted to the unborn baby during the pregnancy although this is very rare and it more common when the mother contracts HSV close to the time of the birth.

  • HSV-1 and HSV-2 both carry the same risks for newborns. One is not worse than the other.

6. HIV:

  • HIV can be transmitted to the unborn baby during pregnancy, birth, and through breast milk.

  • The risk of transmission during pregnancy and birth can be controlled down to a 2% chance of transmission.

7. HPV:

  • Genital warts are likely to increase in size and volume during pregnancy, likely due to the increased hormones.

  • HPV may be linked to laryngeal papillomatosis in newborns - rare noncancerous growth in the larynx.

8. Syphilis:

  • Syphilis can be transmitted to the unborn baby during pregnancy.

  • It can lead to congenital syphilis in babies - serious multi-system infection.

  • Increased risk of premature birth, stillbirth, and death shortly after birth (rare).

  • Untreated newborns who survive are at risk for experiencing problems with multiple organs including the brain, eyes, ears, heart, skin, teeth, and bones.

9. Trichamoniasis:

  • There are often no symptoms with trich. Possible symptoms include itching, irritation, unusual odor, discharge, and pain during urination or sex.

  • Trich increases risk of premature rupture of membranes, preterm birth, low birth weight, and newborn (female) can acquire it during the birth (rare).

Find more information using these links:


STD Facts - STDs & Pregnancy Detailed Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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Danville, KY, USA


©2019 by Jessica Fibbe Birth & Breastfeeding Services.