Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections (STD/STI)
Updated: Feb 20, 2020
Pregnancy Resource Centers are becoming a leading voice in the rising issue of STDs. Mothers’ health and the wellbeing of their babies is one of our top priorities. Pregnant women who tested positive for STDs are at a huge risk for major complications. Many (but not all) PRC are equipped with a Registered Nurse who can administer free testing. If your local pregnancy center cannot administer a free test, they can refer you to a nearby clinic that can.
Did you know that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (like AIDS & HIV) are among the leading causes of death in the State of Florida?
Did you know that 2020 is a record year for STDs in the nation? If you are sexually active, this puts you at risk! If you are pregnant, your risks are higher and could be life-threatening.
However, there is help and treatment. In this article, we are going to discuss how to get help, testing, pregnancy, abstinence, partners, and much more!
Pregnant Women and STDs
Besides long term abdominal and pelvic pain, women are at a risk to become infertile if they have an untreated STD. It is common for an infected mother to pass her disease onto her baby if she hasn’t taken steps to treat herself with antibiotics or receive proper medical care while pregnant.
STD can certainly be passed onto a baby, and the effects might not be seen until after birth, or even years later. A pregnant mother with an untreated STD has a 40% chance for her baby to pass away at birth. Babies who survive can be carriers of the disease and will need treatment. HIV and AIDS have no cure.
With those kinds of odds, it is imperative to get tested as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test (if not sooner.) Part of your prenatal care should include a test for STDs, but not all doctors routinely check for this. If you are on a waiting list to see your OBGYN, or if your doctor did not offer you a test, go to this website to make a FREE testing appointment. https://gettested.cdc.gov/
How Are STD’s Treated In Pregnancy?
Thankfully, there are many ways to treat an STI (sexually transmitted infection) with antibiotics that are safe for your baby! With proper medical care and medicine, you will be uninfected in time for delivery. You might need to discuss with your doctor (or local Pregnancy Resource Center) how to avoid reinfection if you contracted an STD from your partner. Remember, when you are pregnant your health is at a greater risk.
However, because diseases like HIV and AIDS are incurable, there is a different approach to treatment. HIV.org says, “If you have HIV, take (antiretroviral therapy or ART) daily as prescribed. If your viral load is not suppressed, your doctor may talk with you about options for delivering the baby that can reduce transmission risk. After birth, babies born to a mother with HIV are given ART right away for 4 to 6 weeks. If you are treated for HIV early in your pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1% or less. Breast milk can have HIV in it. So, after delivery, you can prevent giving HIV to your baby by not breastfeeding.”
It is important to have conversations with your doctor about your sexuality and your background. You cannot receive the best medical care possible for you and your baby if you are not honest and open.
Also know that early on, you might not experience symptoms immediately. The only way to be sure you are not infected is by regular testing.
According to WebMD, the graphic below shows what symptoms to look for.
Partner's and SDTs
Another issue to discuss during pregnancy is talking about past sexual relationships with your partner. It is critical in any relationship to know their sexual background and if they are positive for an STD. It can be an uncomfortable conversation, but if you feel uncomfortable talking about it, take a step back.
"If you are not ready to talk about sex with your partner, you might not be ready to have it at all."
If your partner is sexually active with multiple people you are at a higher risk to become infected. Even if he has only had “a few relationships in the past” it’s important he tests before engaging in sex, especially if you are pregnant and at a higher risk.
This is not rude or judgemental towards your partner in any way. If someone loves you they will respect your wishes! You have a responsibility to care for your health and the health of your baby and the physical health of your relationship.
Did you know that you can become reinfected by a partner? This is why it is also important to talk to your doctor and partner openly.
Even though STI’s can be cured, there are still risks for you and your baby (and your longterm fertility health) if you go untreated or keep receiving the same infection.
Testing can be done in a variety of noninvasive ways. Some STDs (like HIV) can be detected in blood tests. Others are detected with urine samples or a swab test (if you are a woman.) You can also get free testing through the CDC. Check out their help link to make an appointment! https://gettested.cdc.gov/
You should never be afraid of testing!
The Truth About Abstinence And “Waiting”
Healthcare providers talk about abstinence. But what is abstinence and how do you do it? Is it “safe sex?”
Well, no. It’s actually no sex at all.
You are probably asking, “Where is the fun in that?”
I would ask you, “Where is the fun in an unexpected pregnancy, uncommitted relationships, an STD, or emotional heartache?”
When I hear people say, "Practicing “safe sex” is the only way to prevent an STD and pregnancy,” I think, “So, why aren’t the STD rates dropping in America?”
They aren’t. They rise every year.
“Safe sex” (and sex outside of marriage) aren’t designed to sustain a relationship. Sex was only designed as a way to bring two best friends, who have publicly dedicated their lives to each other, closer together. It’s intimate, private, emotional, vulnerable, romantic, and not shareable. All your friends might be doing it, TV makes it look glamorous, and all the songs on the radio are about lovemaking--but the Bible tells us that this path, no matter how popular it seems, is a path of self-destruction.
When the Bible says, “marriage should be honored by all” it means we should treat it as something special, with respect. Things that are honored have His favor and special blessings. If you choose "marriage sex" instead of "unwed sex," you are doing an honorable action, and God will honor you in return.
Saying ‘no’ to sex outside of a committed, long term relationship (marriage) has deeper benefits than just avoiding the frustration of an unplanned pregnancy and STDs. It actually brings us closer to God!
Did you know that God doesn’t give us random commands that are impossible to obey?
Did you know he doesn’t make up random rules?
Did you know there are reasons for everything he asks us to do?
God actually cares about you. He cares that you don’t find yourself in an awkward crisis pregnancy. He cares that you don’t get an STD. He cares that you are in a healthy, committed relationship with someone who will protect you emotionally.
God cares about your sex life because He wants to protect you! It’s more than making choices for your health--it's about experiencing what God has for you.
But regardless of the statistics and spiritual reasons, is it physically possible to wait? Aren’t we sexual creatures? How can you contain yourself?
First, it is not wrong to have sexual desires. God made them. One of our basic human needs is for relationships (sexual and non-sexual.) This is why we encourage marriage. It is the healthiest way to channel our desires without bad side-effects (STDs, emotional hurt, the frustration of an unplanned pregnancy, distance from God.)
However, just because we are sexual, does not mean that we should treat it freely. In fact, when you have sex with someone you have a lot to risk emotionally.
We have a bonding hormone, (nicknamed the cuddling hormone) called oxytocin. It is powerful and slightly addictive. It releases when we engage in sexual intercourse. This is why it is hard for people in toxic relationships to break up--they are connected by something deeper than themselves. It is also why healthy marriages last for 50 years. God created every part of our bodies with a purpose and His rules guide us into peace and harmony.
God created that hormone in us because he wants us to be married "until death parts us." It was not His design to use it with someone we aren't spending the rest of us with. God wants marriage because it brings two people together and creates a spiritual connection between them unlike any other. It’s the same force of devotion and faithfulness Jesus has toward us. It's meant to be forever.
If God gave us the rules for sex, then He has also given us the power to follow them.
Remember, God created sex and he created you. Abstaining from harmful practices is possible! He loves you and He says he won't give you a burden you cannot carry alone.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
We also know that we have a choice to overcome sexual relationships outside of marriage because the Bible tells us to flee from them:
1 Corinthians 6:18 "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body."
Imagine you have a car. You can drive it on the highway, within the lines, and sometimes on an off-road trail. But what if you drive the car into a random wall? Why would you do that?
Cars aren’t designed to go through walls--and your body wasn’t designed for sex outside of a committed relationship. It’s designed to work within the lines of marriage and with a person who will protect you from STDs and pregnancy they cannot commit to.
However, science, doctors, and The Florida Department of Health back up what the Bible says:
“The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting chlamydia:
Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results.”
There Are Two Ways To Avoid STDs:
1. A person in a monogamous (not multiple partners), long term relationship (marriage).
2. Saying ‘no’ to anyone who wants a sexual relationship outside of marriage: practice “no sex” instead of “safe sex.”
Here Are a Few Ways to Enforce Abstinence to Make Sure You Succeed
1. Surround Yourself With People Who Support Your Choice and Can Encourage You.
If you want to get healthy, you don’t hang out in a sick room. You surround yourself with healthy people going in the same direction as you. Churches and local pregnancy resource centers are great places to build a community.
2. Set Clear Boundaries.
Saying no to sex is a boundary. When you meet someone who expresses interest in you, it’s okay to say, “I’m not sexually active and I am saving it for a marriage relationship.” Trust me, this will only scare away men who want to use you for one thing. It will attract men who genuinely love you and want to protect you.
3. Remind Yourself Daily That God Loves You!
He loves you so much He gave you warnings. He loves you so much He wants to protect you from harm. He loves you so much!
4. Remember: “waiting until marriage” might be an old fashioned idea, but people from the “old fashioned days” did not have rampant STDs, high unwed mother rates, or shocking divorce rates like they do in 2020. Just because it’s old fashioned doesn’t mean its a bad idea. You are making goals and choices for your life to help you win. You are waiting for a relationship where you never have to worry about compromising your health, your womb, or your emotional security.
If you need support in your journey or have more questions about sex, pregnancy, or STDs, call Mary’s Pregnancy Center. We are here to help you! If issues in your sexual relationship arise because of an STD or pregnancy, reach out for relationship advice and counseling.