Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can pose unique risks for someone who’s pregnant. Pregnant women should be especially careful to protect themselves against STDs during pregnancy.

It’s important that all pregnant women get screened for STDs in their first trimester, along with other prenatal screening. This can ensure that there was no infection prior to getting pregnant.

During pregnancy, it’s possible to transmit the infection to the developing child. In the case of chlamydia, it may cause inflammation of the eyes and pneumonia in newborns.

Early treatment is important. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner treatment can start to ensure the infection won’t be transmitted to the baby or complications don’t arise.

Although anyone can contract an STD, there are some factors that put you at higher risk.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with chlamydia than men. Sexually active women under the age of 25 are at the highest risk for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screening for both. They also recommend screening for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B for all pregnant women.

Chlamydia is commonly asymptomatic, meaning that most people with chlamydia won’t have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may not do so for several weeks after transmission.

If symptoms are present, they can include:

  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • yellow or green discharge from the vagina
  • lower abdominal pain
  • pain when having sexual intercourse

Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms, especially if you’re pregnant.

Treatment for chlamydia should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis.

Antibiotics may be used to relieve symptoms and treat the infection. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor about whether antibiotics would be effective for you.

You’ll also want to make sure that any side effects you experience won’t harm the developing child. For example, doxycycline isn’t recommended during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

It’s also possible to have an allergic reaction to a drug used to treat chlamydia. Everyone’s body is different, and sometimes people report side effects to certain drugs.

The CDC recommends that healthcare providers give medication for chlamydia in a doctor’s office. This is because it’s important to make sure you don’t have a reaction after the first dose.

Antibiotic medications can also change bacteria that normally inhabit the vagina or bowels. This may make it easier to get yeast infections.

Antibiotics to use during pregnancy

Three antibiotics are recommended for the treatment of chlamydia during pregnancy: azithromycin, erythromycin, or amoxicillin.

Most research has suggested that azithromycin is a safe and effective treatment. Bad reactions to single-dose azithromycin are rare.

Side effects that have been reported include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • rash

Side effects of erythromycin may include:

  • skin rash
  • diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • irregular heart beat or chest pain
  • mouth ulcers
  • inflammation of the liver

If you’re prescribed erythromycin, you’ll need to be retested three weeks after you finish taking the medication to make sure the infection is gone.

Side effects of amoxicillin include:

  • skin rash
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • trouble passing urine
  • seizures
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • upset stomach

All pregnant women are recommended to be retested 3 months after treatment.

Antibiotics to avoid during pregnancy

Doxycycline and ofloxacin shouldn’t be used during pregnancy because they may interfere with fetal development.

Doxycycline can discolor a baby’s teeth. Ofloxacin may inhibit DNA formation and may injure the child’s connective tissue.

Possible side effects of doxycycline include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • liver toxicity
  • esophageal ulcers
  • rash

Possible side effects of ofloxacin include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • dizziness
  • liver toxicity
  • seizure

For women who aren’t pregnant

Women with chlamydia who aren’t pregnant can take any antibiotics, as long as they have no prior history of reaction to one.

The advantage of azithromycin is that it’s usually taken as a single dose. Doxycycline must be taken for seven days.

Talk to your doctor about the right antibiotic for you.

To minimize the risk of contracting and transmitting chlamydia, sexual intercourse should be avoided until treatment is complete.

If you’ve been diagnosed, it’s also best to contact any sexual partners you had during the 60 days before you were tested. It’s strongly suggested that these partners be tested and treated if needed.

The most reliable way to prevent chlamydia is to avoid sex while being treated. If you and a partner have both been diagnosed, you should avoid sexual contact until everyone has completed treatment.

Some methods to prevent being infected with chlamydia include:

If a partner is infected, using a condom is recommended to help protect against infection or reinfection, although it’s not 100 percent effective.

Chlamydia is a curable STD and can be treated with antibiotics. If you’re currently pregnant, it’s best to speak with your doctor about which options would be best for you.

Be sure to get screened for STDs in your first trimester of pregnancy and be aware of the possible side effects of any antibiotics you’re taking.