Why Is Important To Get Tested For STDs During Pregnancy?

Why Is Important To Get Tested For STDs During Pregnancy? Image

When it comes to the common STDs and the harmful complications that they could lead to, it seems that no one is spared. Adults, children, and even pregnant women and their babies in the womb can be affected by these dangerous diseases. This means only one thing – proper testing and treatment are crucial during pregnancy, especially for the STDs that can be easily passed to the little one in the womb. 

The importance of getting tested for STDs during pregnancy

An existing STD during the pregnancy period can cause serious complications for both the mother and the baby since many STDs can be easily passed to the fetus. That is why it is very important to get properly tested and treated in case of an existing STD. 

Luckily, the doctors have thought about everything and they have made STD testings a regular part of the prenatal visits for all pregnant women. Screenings for HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and syphilis are done at the first prenatal visit. Gonorrhea and hepatitis C screenings are also recommended to be done throughout the pregnancy.

However, an STD can also develop after these screenings take place. That is why it is very important to consult your doctor if you suspect that you might have been infected with an STD. But many women feel ashamed and afraid to consult their doctors, which is the case in most African countries. 

That is also the cause why so many pregnant women have been affected by STDs in Africa as well. A 2018 study has shown a high prevalence of the common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, among pregnant women with the prevalence being 15%.

And this brings us to a very important topic – the use of portable STD test kits. The portable test kits can be ordered online, offered by Ghana Medicals. Delivered in complete anonymity, they contain everything that you need to take a sample and send it off to a laboratory that will deliver your results in only a few days. Then, you can discuss your results with your doctor in case they are positive.

Potential complications of leaving an STD untreated

We will now discuss the possible complications caused by the most common STDs with the hopes of raising awareness among all pregnant women. We hope that it is the fear of these complications instead of the fear of testing and treated an STD that you will feel and make you want to get protected and treated as soon as possible.

Syphilis and HIV can infect the baby while it is still inside the womb. On the other hand, chlamydia and genital herpes can be passed on the baby as it is being delivered through the infected birth canal. Here are the biggest concerns and risks to unborn babies due to untreated STDs.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5857256/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5967814/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6293753

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2039031

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/480010

Syphilis Infection in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana

Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District

By identifying the risk factors of the common STDs, we will be able to raise awareness for their existence and over time, work to eliminate them. With that, we can act to decline the STD rates on a global level, with a focus on where those rates are the highest. That is exactly what a group of researchers has done back in 2019, trying to identify the risk factors for existing syphilis infection among pregnant women.

What are the syphilis risk factors among pregnant women in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa District in Ghana?

Syphilis is one of the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Like any other STD, syphilis as well is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

The first and most characteristic symptoms of existing syphilis infection is a painless sore that can appear anywhere on the sexual organs, rectum, lips, or inside the mouth. People usually fail to notice this first symptom and continue to live with the existing infection, eventually helping it spread if they engage in unprotected sexual intercourse in the near future.

Although we have penicillin since the 1990s, there is a continuous spread of syphilis on an international level, with more than 10 million individuals being diagnosed with an existing syphilis infection each year. Of course, the prevalence of syphilis is higher in high burden countries and rural areas such as Africa, especially in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa.

The overall prevalence of syphilis in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana has been estimated to be around 3.2% with a higher prevalence among women, about 5.7%, as compared to men, among which the prevalence is around 1.7%. The prevalence seems to be dangerously high among pregnant women with a prevalence of 1.6% in 2016, which poses its own threats knowing how syphilis can be easily transmitted to the baby in the womb during pregnancy.

But it is not only the congenital syphilis infection that we need to fear. Other complications such as stillbirth, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal death are possible as well. In fact, syphilis during pregnancy is considered to be the second leading cause of stillbirth on a global level.

Because of the high prevalence rates, researchers have conducted a study that was later published in 2019, with the hopes of identifying the exact risk factors for developing a syphilis infection during pregnancy among pregnant women in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa. Identification of the risk factors can help to later focus on their elimination and improvement so that the rates of syphilis can significantly decline.

One of the risk factors was found to be married since syphilis infection was more common among couples that have been married as compared to those individuals who have been single, although the difference was not significant. The prevalence of syphilis was high in those who have reported a history of coerced sexual intercourse and those who have engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind with multiple partners. Living in rural areas such as the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa played one of the biggest roles as a significant risk factor.

Biggest risk factors

As it turns out, being in a marriage, living in a rural area, and having a history of coerced sexual intercourse play the role of the biggest risk factors for syphilis in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa where there has been a high syphilis prevalence, especially in women and in pregnant women.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973824/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#ref-CR5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/
https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/35/Supplement_2/S200/316361
https://www.who.int/gho/sti/en/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6