Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in pregnancy

young adult talking to health care professional in an exam room

During the reproductive years, using condoms and having regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing can be an important part of a reproductive health plan because certain STIs can affect fertility if left untreated. Here’s more from Nancy McAlary, our Sexual Health Promoter:

STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, may cause infertility if these infections are not treated with medication. Chlamydia and gonorrhea testing can be as easy as peeing in a cup at one of Toronto’s free Sexual Health Clinics.  You do not need an OHIP card or health insurance to access these services.

Condom use and frequent testing for STIs are a good prevention strategy because some infections do not show obvious symptoms. 

Having sex while pregnant is safe for most people with uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies. Condom use during pregnancy is recommended with any new sexual partners. Of course, once pregnant, a body cannot become more pregnant, but the body is still at risk of acquiring an infection!  STI testing and treatment are also important during pregnancy.

Untreated STIs can be passed to the baby during pregnancy or during delivery and can possibly lead to serious complications, including premature delivery, low birth weight, and miscarriage.

Most treatments for STIs are safe to take in pregnancy. As well, pregnant people living with HIV can take medications to reduce the risk of the baby getting HIV to less than 1%.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that people who are pregnant be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV at their first prenatal visit.

Subsequent STI testing is also recommended if someone has new sexual partners during the pregnancy term.

Visit our website for more information about STI testing and treatment.   You can also connect live from anywhere in Ontario with a counsellor on our Sexual Health Information Line.  It’s anonymous and free.

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