May 23, 2012
Should All Pregnant Women be Tested for STDs?
While the topic of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is not pleasant, it certainly is essential, especially for pregnant women. A recent medical study reports that only 59% of pregnant women are tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. That is absurd. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Congress for Obstetrician/Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that all pregnant women be screened for STDs during their first prenatal visit.
Untreated STDs can cause havoc during pregnancy. From preterm labor to newborn blindness, STDs are not a nice thing to have. But the good news is, they’re curable provided you know that you have one. One of my former patients complained about “breaking her water” although she was only 26 weeks pregnant. When I checked her, she did indeed rupture her membranes but also had an STD called Trichomonas which I ultimately treated. Had I not checked her, we would never have known about the premature rupture of membranes as well as the STD. The patient was sent to a specialty hospital where she remained for the next 11 weeks until she had her baby.
In our present healthcare climate, time equals money. The more patients a provider sees the more money he or she makes so there is the temptation to cut corners. Every pregnant woman should have an initial PAP smear at her first prenatal visit. Most PAP smears have the ability to detect cervical cancer as well as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in addition to Trichomonas and Bacterial Vaginosis. Both of these infections need to be treated in order to reduce the risk of developing preterm labor and your partner needs to be treated for Trichomonas as well. If your partner is not treated and you have sex, consider yourself reinfected.
Unlike men, women rarely have symptoms so it is important to be tested for Chlamydia because if untreated, there is a risk of going blind. All pregnant women should be tested for Chlamydia and then retested after receiving treatment to make certain the infection is gone. The same principle holds true for Gonorrhea.
All foul-smelling vaginal discharges need to be checked by your provider. No exceptions. Some providers will not examine the patient but give her a prescription for a “yeast” infection. All vaginal discharges cannot be attributed to a yeast infection and needs further evaluation.
All pregnant women need to be tested for STDs, not a mere 59%. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.