STD Testing Pregnancy

STD Testing Pregnancy

Women who are sexually active should have a Pap smear and an STD test before getting pregnant. These tests check for abnormal cells on the cervix and can also detect some infections, including chlamydia, hepatitis B, herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis.

A study of STI testing trends at an urban safety net hospital shows that the number of tests decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic but returned to normal by July 2020.


All pregnant women are recommended to receive a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Some women may also need to be tested for other STDs such as syphilis, herpes and HIV.

The infections caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics that are safe for pregnancy. Herpes and HIV cannot be cured, but can be managed with medication to reduce the risk of passing infection to the baby during delivery or breastfeeding.

Women who are infected with syphilis should be treated early during pregnancy to prevent complications from the disease such as blindness, infertility, miscarriage or death. Syphilis is passed on through close contact with a syphilis sore during sexual activity or by sharing needles.


Chlamydia is spread through unprotected sex, either vaginal or anal. The infection can spread upward to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with PID may experience painful menstrual periods, vaginal discharge, or a sore vulva. Men with chlamydia can have a painful urethra or ejaculate.

Using latex condoms and water-based lubricant is the best way to prevent STIs. People who have chlamydia for long periods without treatment risk becoming infertile or developing arthritis.

Previous research has found that women find chlamydia screening acceptable if they are well informed about the serious sequelae of untreated chlamydia, understand that the infection is easily treated and not contagious, and know they could be pregnant.


Gonorrhea can cause serious problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In PID, the bacteria can damage a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes (egg canals). This makes it hard to have children and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.

Doctors test for gonorrhea by collecting samples of fluid from the penis, throat, or rectum and sending them to a lab for testing. Highly sensitive tests can detect the bacteria in these samples. Some of these tests can also detect chlamydia and herpes in the same sample.


Syphilis can cause serious health problems for pregnant women and babies. It can also lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Syphilis testing during pregnancy is recommended by the CDC as part of routine prenatal care. Women who live in areas with high syphilis prevalence are considered at increased risk and are recommended to be tested in the first trimester and at delivery.

Doctors can test for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis with a urine sample. They can also use a swab to test inside the cervix or penis for gonorrhea and chlamydia. These tests can be done right in the office.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that infects and damages the liver. It is most often spread by unprotected sex or through sharing needles for injecting drugs. It can also be transmitted during birth from a chronically infected mother to her child, which is a significant problem for Asian populations.

Pregnant women are routinely screened for Hepatitis B by testing for the HBsAg antigen in the first trimester. Those found to be HBsAg positive should undergo additional testing for Hepatitis B e antigen and viral load. Newborns can be protected against hepatitis B by receiving both hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within 12 hours of birth.


Women with genital herpes should be screened for the virus while pregnant. A blood test can detect herpes antibodies even when no sores are present. This can help your doctor decide whether you need treatment.

If you have active herpes at the time of delivery, your baby can be infected by contact with sores. This can lead to blindness and brain damage in newborns. Your doctor may recommend a C-section if you have herpes to reduce this risk.

Pregnancy should not stop you from getting tested for herpes and other STDs. Your health is important, and untreated STDs can harm your baby. Get tested and treated as soon as possible.

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