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Understanding STDs in Pregnancy -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments? continued...

Small warts require no treatment, while larger, more bothersome, ones may be treated by chemical burning with acids or by cutting them away. During pregnancy, medications such as podophyllin or podofilox should be avoided since they are absorbed by your skin and can cause birth defects in your baby. Imiquimod should be used only if potential benefits outweigh the risks. Babies rarely contract warts from their mothers, so the CDC generally does not recommend cesarean delivery for women with HPV. However, your doctor will suggest a cesarean if warts block the birth canal or if there is a danger of warts tearing and bleeding during delivery. Some women find that their warts go away after childbirth.

Because HPV may increase the risk of cervical cancer, be sure to get regular Pap smears if you have been infected — even if you've had the visible warts removed.

Gonorrhea

Bacteria spread through sexual contact with an infected partner cause gonorrhea. Oral antibiotics can get rid of the bacteria. Both you and your sexual partners must be tested and treated, or the infection can recur. Routine pregnancy testing includes screening for gonorrhea in the vaginal and cervical secretions because it is such a common STD. Because gonorrhea can be present without symptoms, most doctors automatically treat the eyes of all newborns to prevent infection.

Hepatitis B

The transmission of hepatitis B virus occurs most commonly through sexual contact. However, it can be passed through all bodily fluids. This means you can catch it from kissing or sharing the toothbrush or IV drug needles of an infected person. A mother may carry the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or childbirth. A simple blood test done routinely in pregnancy can detect whether you are carrying the virus.

If a baby is born to a mother with the virus, the baby is given an injection of gamma globulin after birth, a vaccine within 12 hours of birth, and follow-up vaccines during the first six months of life. A mother who carries the virus should not breastfeed her child. In many areas, newborns are routinely vaccinated against hepatitis B along with other immunizations given during infancy and childhood.

Anyone who works in a high-risk setting and is exposed to blood should get a vaccine against hepatitis B to prevent infection.

Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by bacteria spread through intercourse and other forms of sexual contact with an infected partner, such as oral sex and kissing. All pregnant women have routine blood screening for syphilis at the first prenatal visit. If you test positive, you can protect your baby from infection by taking a course of penicillin, which your doctor will prescribe for you. Women allergic to penicillin usually can be treated after a series of steps to make their bodies and immune system accustomed to the antibiotic. In order to avoid reinfection during your pregnancy and afterward, abstain from sexual relations with infected partners.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on October 04, 2012

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