Gonorrhea During Pregnancy
If you become infected with gonorrhea while you are pregnant, it is important that you seek treatment quickly. Not only is it possible to transmit the infection to your child during childbirth, but this common sexually transmitted disease can also cause complications in your pregnancy.
What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is passed through vaginal and seminal fluids. It can be contracted through vaginal, anal or oral sex from someone who is infected. It is a bacterial infection that comes from the neisseria gonorrhea bacteria. Although anyone of any age can become infected with gonorrhea, gonorrhea statistics show that people under the age of 30 are the most at risk, making up 75% of all reported cases in the United States.
Why is Gonorrhea Called the Clap?
Gonorrhea is sometimes also known as "the clap". This moniker may seem a bit strange but is has actually been around since 1587. It comes from the French word "clapoir" which was commonly used to describe gonorrhea in the late sixteenth century.
In women, a gonorrhea infection usually starts in the cervix and then works it way up to the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. Typical female symptoms of gonorrhea include:
- Vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody
- Bleeding after sex
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Bleeding between periods
- Nausea or vomiting
However, as much as 75% of women infected with gonorrhea will be asymptomatic. This is why all pregnant women are strongly encouraged to be tested for gonorrhea at least once during their pregnancy.
Gonorrhea and Newborns
If you are pregnant and infected with gonorrhea, you may have an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and preterm labor. During birth, it is possible to transmit the infection to your baby as it passes through the birth canal. In this instance, gonorrhea infects the eyes and can lead to blindness. Gonorrhea can also cause septic arthritis, meningitis and pneumonia, which may be life threatening, in infants. To help prevent an infection from taking hold, many babies receive medicated eye drops, often silver nitrate, immediately after birth.
If you discover that an older child has a gonorrhea infection, either in the genital tract, mouth or rectum, you may want to investigate the matter. A gonorrhea infection in older children often suggests that the child is being sexually abused.
It is entirely possible to treat and cure gonorrhea when you are pregnant. Gonorrhea treatments generally consist of one dose of antibiotics. However, not all types of antibiotics used for gonorrhea are safe to use when you are pregnant. Discuss with your health care provider what course of treatment is best for you.
Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to a host of complications, some of which may leave you infertile.