Ways of preventing mother-to-child STDs transmissions

mother-to-child STDs transmissions
mother-to-child STDs transmissions

Sexually transmitted infections are common and mostly affect people between the age of 15-24 though they can affect anyone. People in this age bracket are common victims because they are sexually active, and STDs spreads through sexual contact but some spread through skin-to-skin contact.

Viruses and bacteria are the major causes of the common STDs though some are due to fungi. Sexually transmitted infections rarely show symptoms, as some can take years before the symptoms start, meaning if you don’t get STD testing, you are unlikely to know that you have one. For this reason, most people transmit STDs without understanding them, which explains why they are common.

There are many STDs, but the most common ones are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis B
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Chlamydia
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts

What are the symptoms of STDs?

In some cases, STDs don’t show symptoms, but when they do, they include;

  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Skin yellowing 
  • Painful urination
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling or redness of the genitals
  • Warts or bumps on the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Itchy genitals
  • Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge with an unpleasant smell
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Unusual heavy bleedings between the periods
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aches

How STDs spreads

STDs can spread in many ways, but the most common one is through sexual contact. Let’s dive deeper into modes of STD transmission.

Sexual contact

From the name sexually transmitted disease, all STDs spread through sex when there is an exchange of fluids like blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, or vaginal fluids. The passing of STDs only happens if you engage in unprotected sex.

STDs that spread through semen and vagina fluids are gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, etc., while those spreading through blood include hepatitis B and HIV.

It is, therefore, important to always use protection while having sex, especially if you don’t know the STD status of the person, whether it is oral, vaginal, anal sex, or through genital skin-to-skin contact. 

Besides using protection, there are other ways you can prevent STDs through sexual intercourse, and they include:

  • Abstinence
  • Being in a monogamous and honest relationship. 

You should ensure you regularly get STD testing together with your partner. In fact, according to CDC, you should annually go for STD testing, and if you have multiple sexual partners, it should be more frequent. 

Skin-to-skin contact

Some STDs are spread through sexual intercourse and skin contact with the infected person. Some of the spread is through sharing eating utensils with an infected person or even coming in touch with the infected fluids. 

Though they are still spread through sex, STDs like genital herpes, human papillomavirus, and syphilis can also spread through genital skin-to-skin contact. You can spread some STDs like genital herpes from your genitals to your mouth when you come in contact with infected fluids from your genitals, then touch your mouth with your hands before washing them.

Mother-to-child transmission

Pregnant women can also transmit STDs to their babies before, during, or after birth. When you have STIs like syphilis while pregnant, it can pass the placenta and infect the baby in your womb. Others like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and hepatitis B can pass to your baby through the birth canal when the baby passes during delivery.

And HIV can cross the placenta while pregnant infect your baby during delivery and breastfeeding. 

Passing STDs to your baby can harm them in many ways. Below are some of the effects of infecting them with STIs:

  • Blindness
  • Meningitis
  • Low birth weight
  • Stillbirth
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Eye infection
  • Brain damage

How do I prevent mother-to-child STD transmission?

STDs are common infections, and we should work towards reducing infection in youths and adults and unborn and breastfeeding children. There are many ways we can prevent mother-to-child STDs transmission, and they include:

Through regular STD testing, diagnosis, and treatment

Pregnant women should regularly undergo STD testing to ensure they are STD negative, and if they are positive, they get appropriate treatments. They can quickly treat STDs due to bacteria because they are curable. But, if it’s a viral STD that is incurable, they should take antiviral medications to suppress the virus and reduce its chances of an outbreak.

When you do this, you will reduce the risks and prevent spreading STDs to your baby.

Through Safe childbirth

If you are expectant and have incurable STDs, you must discuss safe birth with your doctor. Most STDs pass to the baby through delivery, and you may not want to infect your child; your best chance is to give birth in a facility. 

Through prenatal treatment

Some babies can get STDs while still in the womb when the infections pass to the placenta, while others get them during birth when passing the birth canal. Getting the necessary treatment during pregnancy is vital to avoid infecting your baby. This will suppress and reduce the number of viruses, making them inactive.

Good postnatal care

Some STDs can still pass through breastfeeding from the mother to the child after birth. It is, therefore, essential to practice safe infant feeding. For example, if you’re HIV positive, breastfeeding is not advisable, especially when the viral load is high, to avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to your child. 

If you are trichomoniasis positive and breastfeeding, you should take metronidazole antibiotics and wait for at least 12 hours before breastfeeding. 

For STDs spreading through skin-to-skin contacts like syphilis and herpes, you can breastfeed but ensure your child doesn’t come in contact with a sore. 

When you do all these, you can prevent passing STDs to your child.

Is it safe to breastfeed while under STD treatments?

Yes, it is safe to breastfeed even under STI medications, but if you should share it with your doctor and if they feel there can be possible effects, they can advise you accordingly. 

Conclusion

STDs are common and contagious diseases that can affect even unborn babies. You can prevent spreading these infections to your child depending on the STD you are suffering from. 

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