Gonorrhea During Pregnancy

Some moms-to-be find out they have gonorrhea at one of their first prenatal appointments. So what are the risks to baby? And how should the gonorrhea be safely treated? Read on.
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By Jennifer L.W. Fink, Registered Nurse
Updated March 2, 2017
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What is gonorrhea during pregnancy?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that, if you have it during delivery, could affect baby at birth.

What are the signs of gonorrhea?

Most people with gonorrhea don’t notice any signs or symptoms. Symptoms (if you have any) can be even harder to spot during pregnancy because they include vaginal  discharge and vaginal  bleeding or spotting — both of which can happen during pregnancy anyhow — and occasional discomfort or burning while peeing.

Are there any tests for gonorrhea?

There are a lot of simple lab tests for gonorrhea. Most use a sample from the infected area, but urine can also be tested for gonorrhea. Almost all pregnant women are tested for gonorrhea at their first prenatal visit.

How common is gonorrhea during pregnancy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 13,000 pregnant women in the US have gonorrhea.

How did I get gonorrhea?

From sexual contact. Gonorrhea can be spread by contact with the penis, mouth, vagina or anus.

How will my gonorrhea affect my baby?

If you have it when your baby is delivered, gonorrhea can get into your baby’s eyes as he passes through the birth canal. “In some parts of the world, gonorrhea infection is one of the more common causes of childhood blindness,” says Sharon Phelan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico. Here in the US, almost all newborns get special eyedrops shortly after the birth that are designed to prevent blindness in cases of undiagnosed gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea can also cause joint infections or life-threatening blood infections in infected babies (see next page for treatment, prevention and more resources).

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What’s the best way to treat gonorrhea?

A simple course of oral antibiotics can treat gonorrhea — and prevent you from infecting your baby.

What can I do to prevent gonorrhea?

Practice safe sex. Your best bet is a monogamous relationship with an STD-free partner. If you’re unsure of your partner’s sexual history or STD status, insist on using condoms.

Are there any other resources for gonorrhea during pregnancy?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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