Posts Tagged ‘STD’

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

April is Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month. In the United States, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections happen each year.

Sexually transmitted infections (also called STI, sexually transmitted diseases or STD) are infections that you can get from having unprotected sex or intimate physical contact with a person who is infected.

Having an STI during pregnancy can cause serious problems for babies, including premature birth, low birthweight, miscarriage, and other problems after birth. Many people with STIs don’t know they’re infected because some STIs have no signs or symptoms. Therefore, the best way to protect your baby from STIs is to protect yourself from STIs.

Here’s what you can do to help protect yourself from STIs:

  • If you have sex, have safe sex. Have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are barrier methods of birth control and help prevent pregnancy, as well as STIs.
  • Get tested and treated. The sooner you get tested and treated, the less likely you are to have complications from your infection.
  • Ask your partner to get tested and treated. Even if you get treated for an STI, if your partner’s infected you can get the infection again.
  • Go to all your prenatal care visits, even if you’re feeling fine. If you think you may have an STI, let your health care provider know. That way you can get tested and treated right away.
  • Get vaccinated. Some vaccinations can help protect you from some STIs, like hepatitis B and some types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent an STI.

Counseling for sexually transmitted infections is a preventive service covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

Protecting your baby from hepatitis B

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Contemplative woman with babyHepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that is caused by an infection with the hepatitis B virus. “Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, like blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluid. It can spread easily through breaks in the skin or in soft body tissues in the nose, mouth and eyes.

You can get hepatitis B if you:

  • Have unprotected sex with an infected partner.
  • Use street drugs and share needles with an infected person.
  • Share things like razors and toothbrushes with an infected person.
  • Come in contact with blood, open sores or body fluid from an infected person. This may happen if you work in a health care setting, like a hospital, doctor’s office or lab, or if you work in public safety, like as a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician (also called EMT).

Hepatitis B is NOT spread through sneezing, coughing, hugging or breastfeeding. Even though the virus can be found in saliva, you can’t get it from kissing or sharing forks, spoons, or knives with someone who’s infected.

If you don’t have hepatitis B, get vaccinated and ask your partner to get vaccinated, too. Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B and pregnancy

If you have hepatitis B during pregnancy and it’s not treated, you can pass it to your baby. This can happen during a vaginal delivery or a c-section. About 9 out of 10 babies (90 percent) infected at birth develop chronic hepatitis B infection. This infection can cause life-long liver problems for your baby.

Getting tested for hepatitis B is a routine part of prenatal care. Your health care provider will test for hepatitis B and other infections at your first prenatal care checkup.

If you do test positive for hepatitis B, your health care provider may prescribe you an antiviral medication during your pregnancy. And soon after birth, your baby will receive 2 shots:

  • A Hepatitis B vaccination within 24 hours. She will then need two more doses in the first 18 months of life, which she can get through her well-baby checkups.
  • A Hepatitis B immune globulin (also called HBIG) shot within 12 hours of birth. HBIG is a type of antiviral that gives your baby extra help to fight off the infection

These shots help prevent your baby from getting hepatitis B. After your baby receives all of her hepatitis B shots, her health care provider will do a blood test to make sure the treatment worked. The blood test is usually done 1-2 months after the last shot, so make sure to follow up with your baby’s health care provider.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Prevent syphilis in your baby

Monday, May 8th, 2017

doctorCongenital syphilis (present at birth) can cause serious lifelong health conditions, or even death, for a baby. Unfortunately, the number of congenital syphilis cases in the United States increased 46 percent between 2012 and 2015.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), also known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can get it by having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with syphilis. You can also get it by having direct contact with an infected person’s syphilis sore which may be on a person’s lips, in their mouth or on their genitals.

If a woman has syphilis and gets pregnant, she needs to be treated for syphilis. If she doesn’t receive treatment, syphilis can pass to her baby.

The good news is that congenital syphilis is preventable:

  1. Protect yourself first. Either don’t have sex or have safe sex by using a condom or other barrier method.
  2. Go to all your prenatal care checkups; your provider will test you for syphilis.
  3. If you have syphilis, your provider will begin treatment. The sooner you receive treatment, the less likely you and your baby may have complications from the infection.
  4. Ask your partner to be tested (and treated) for syphilis, so that you don’t get infected or re-infected.

If you’re not sure whether you have syphilis, or think you may have been exposed to it, contact your healthcare provider.

See our article for more details about protecting yourself and your baby from syphilis. Our article includes diagnosis and treatment information, too.

If you have questions, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

2013d030_3168An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo grows in the wrong place. Ectopic means “out of place.” Approximately 1 in 50 pregnancies in the US is ectopic.

Usually, a woman’s ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of her period. This is called ovulation. When a couple has sexual intercourse and does not use birth control around the time of ovulation, a man’s sperm swim to meet the woman’s egg. When a sperm penetrates the egg, it’s called fertilization or conception. The fertilized egg then travels to the woman’s uterus, where it burrows into the lining of the uterus and begins to grow.

If the fertilized egg implants somewhere else other than the uterine lining, it is an ectopic pregnancy. In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube. However, it can also attach to an ovary, the cervix, or somewhere in the abdominal cavity.

Unfortunately, any place outside of the uterus doesn’t have the right environment for a baby to develop. There is not enough room and if the fertilized egg continues to grow, it can cause excessive bleeding. This bleeding can be life threatening for the pregnant woman.

Risk factors

Any woman can have an ectopic pregnancy, but there are a few risk factors that increase your chances. These include:

  • A prior ectopic pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • STDs
  • Damage to a fallopian tube
  • Pelvic infections or inflammation
  • Pregnancy when using an intrauterine device (IUD) or after having a tubal ligation
  • Fertility treatments

Signs and symptoms

You will not know right away that you have an ectopic pregnancy. You may have the typical signs of pregnancy, like a missed period and nausea. Or you may have no signs of pregnancy. If you take a home pregnancy test, you will get a positive result.

But as the embryo gets bigger, you may have signs that are unusual and not typical of early pregnancy. These include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area. The pain may be mainly on one side. It can start out mild and then become sharp and stabbing.
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Low blood pressure

Treatment

There are two types of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy: medicine (methotrexate) or surgery. Your provider will decide which one is best. After treatment, your provider regularly checks your hCG levels until they return to zero. This can take a few weeks. If your levels stay high, it may mean that you still have ectopic tissue in your body. If this happens, you may need additional treatment.

If you have had an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to take time to grieve for your loss. You can have a healthy pregnancy following an ectopic pregnancy but ask your provider when it is OK for you to try to conceive again.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

STDs can be harmful to you and your baby

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Pregnant woman talking with doctorSexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause problems such as premature birth, ectopic pregnancy, birth defects, miscarriage or stillbirth. Most babies get infected with an STD through the birth canal during labor and birth, but other STDs can cross the placenta and infect your baby in the womb.

What can you do?

April is STD awareness month, and this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have come up with three steps to prevent or treat a STD:  Talk, Test and Treat.

Talk

Have a conversation with your sexual partner about the last time you were tested and how you both plan to have safe sex. You should also talk with your healthcare provider about STD testing and to make sure your vaccines are up to date. Certain vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, can help protect against genital warts.

Life can get busy; if you aren’t sure of the last time you were tested for STDs or if you received a certain vaccine, a visit with your provider is the best time to ask.

Test

Many people with STDs don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms. And if you’re pregnant, STDs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies. See your healthcare provider and get tested.

Treat

If you find out you have an STD, get treatment right away. Receiving treatment can help protect you and your baby during pregnancy and birth.

Don’t wait. Be sure to talk, test and treat to protect your health and that of your baby.

Read our top STD questions answered for lots more info.  

 

Your top STD questions answered

Monday, April 27th, 2015

get tested for STDs1. What is an STD?

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. About 19 million people get an STD each year in the US. Some common STDs are genital wartsgenital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis B.

2. What’s the big deal?

STDs can cause problems if you are trying to get pregnant. If you are already pregnant, STDs can be harmful to you and your baby. Your baby can get infected while passing through the birth canal during labor and delivery. Some STDs can cross the placenta and infect your baby in the womb. Having an STD can complicate your pregnancy and have serious effects on your baby, which may be seen at birth or may not be discovered until months or years later.

3. How do you know if you have an STD?

Many people with an STD don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms. If you are not yet pregnant, ask your provider to test you. Most problems during pregnancy and in your developing baby can be prevented be receiving testing and treatment and going to all of your prenatal care appointments.

4. How will an STD affect your unborn baby?

STDs may cause problems during pregnancy, including premature birth,  premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), ectopic pregnancy, birth defectsmiscarriage or stillbirth.

5. How can you protect yourself and your baby?

Whether you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for STDs. If you find out you have an STD, get treatment right away. Receiving treatment can help protect you and your baby during pregnancy and birth.

You can also receive certain vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, which can help protect against genital warts. You can get the HPV vaccine up until age 26.

The best way to prevent yourself from getting an STD is by not having sex; however if you do, have sex with only one partner who doesn’t have sex with others. Use a condom if you’re not sure if your partner has an STD or ask your partner to get tested and treated for STDs.

What is human papillomavirus, HPV?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Each year in the United States, about 19 million individuals contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Genital warts are a form of the most common STI.

Genital warts are pink, white or gray swellings in the genital area caused by a large group of viruses called human papillomaviruses (HPVs). Some of the viruses also increase the risk of cervical cancer. Genital warts often appear in small, cauliflower-shaped clusters that may itch or burn. About 6.2 million individuals (1 percent of all sexually active adults) in this country become infected each year.

A vaccine against four major types of HPV is now routinely recommended for girls ages 11 to 12 years and girls and women between the ages of 13 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Pregnant women should not get the vaccine.

Sometimes pregnancy-related hormones cause genital warts to grow. Occasionally, they may grow so large that they block the birth canal, making a cesarean section necessary. Rarely, an infected mother can pass the virus on to her baby, causing warts to grow on the baby’s vocal cords. A cesarean section is not recommended to protect the baby because this complication is rare, and the preventive effectiveness of cesarean delivery is not known.

If the warts grow large or make the woman uncomfortable, they can be safely removed during pregnancy with laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing). To learn more about HPV, read the CDC’s fact sheet.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) and focused on raising awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer. NCCC wants you to make sure you and women in your life receive the HPV vaccine, and are screened regularly with a Pap and HPV test. Ask your healthcare provider about it today.