Protecting Your Baby from STDs

Bacterial Vaginosis and Trichomoniasis

About 16 percent of pregnant women develop bacterial vaginosis (BV), an infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that occurs naturally in the vagina. Some women with BV have vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant odor, burning on urination, and genital itching, while others don't experience any symptoms. Though doctors don't know for certain how a woman gets bacterial vaginosis, it appears more common in women who douche or in those who have new or multiple sex partners.

Some studies suggest that BV can double a woman's risk of preterm delivery. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to reduce this risk if you develop symptoms. Since this condition is often symptomless, doctors sometimes test women who have a high risk of preterm labor (such as women who delivered prematurely in a previous pregnancy). Research also suggests that treating high-risk women with bacterial vaginosis (even if they have no symptoms) may reduce their risk of preterm birth.

Trichomoniasis

Each year 2 million women contract trichomoniasis. This parasitic infection often causes yellowish-green, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, genital itching and redness, and sometimes, pain during sex and urination.

If left untreated, trichomoniasis may increase the risk of premature rupture of the membranes and preterm delivery. Infants rarely contract the infection during delivery but may develop a fever after birth.

Doctors often detect trichomoniasis by testing vaginal fluid. As with all STDs, both partners should be tested. Infections can be cured with metronidazole, a drug considered safe in pregnancy.

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