At the beginning of pregnancy, your doctor will test you for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that could hurt you or your baby. These tests are very important.
What tests will I have?
At the first visit, your doctor may do a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and signs of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Your doctor may also test for chlamydia (kluh-MID-ee-uh) and gonorrhea (gah-nuh-REE-uh). These tests may be repeated near the end of your pregnancy.
Your blood will be tested for syphilis (SIFF-uh-liss), hepatitis B, and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The doctor will check your skin for signs of herpes.
Why do I need these tests?
You can have many of these infections without having symptoms. These infections can be passed on to your baby, and some of them can cause you to go into labor early.
What if I have an infection?
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. Medicines can help keep your baby from getting herpes and HIV viruses. If you have hepatitis B, your baby can be given medicine at birth to keep him or her from getting the disease.
Your sex partner may also need to be treated for some infections (for example, chlamydia and gonorrhea) so you don't get the infection back. You should not have sex with your partner until your partner has been treated, too.
How can I protect myself?
The safest way is to have only one sex partner, and for your partner not to have sex with anyone else. Condoms give you some protection. You should always use condoms if you have more than one partner or if your partner may have other partners.
Where can I get more information?
American Social Health Association
Web site: http://www.ashastd.org
Telephone: 1–800–227–8922 or 1–919–361–8400
National Institutes of Health Medline Plus
National Prevention Information Network
Web site: http://www.cdcnpin.org/scripts/index.asp