Can Vaccines Protect Women Against STDs

There are many issues to focus on when couples are planning to conceive. Having a sexually transmitted Disease (STD) can be one of the factors that  add to the stress of this uncertain time. STDs can be the cause of infertility and there are many STDs that cause harm to the unborn baby. Some STDs pass to the fetus during pregnancy and others during labor or whilst breast feeding. It is very important that screening and treatment takes place once couples decide that they want to have a baby.

What Vaccines Exist Against STDs?

Currently there are two vaccines available that protect against STDs. One is against Hepatitis B and the other against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). However, the majority of STDs have no vaccines to prevent them. The most effective way to prevent the spread of these diseases is through monogamous relationships and safe sex practices.

The HPV Vaccine

HPV is a viral infection that is spread through skin to skin sexual contact. Some people with HPV do not suffer any symptoms although common symptoms are genital warts and there is a strong link between HPV and cervical cancer. A vaccine called Gardasil has emerged to try and fight the growing number of HPV cases. The vaccine claims to protect against cervical cancer and four types of the HPV virus. These four types of HPV account for 70% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is still fairly new and has not been tested on women of all ages. It is known that the vaccine is most effective in women who are not yet sexually active and therefore it is being suggested as a suitable vaccine for girls aged 11 and upwards. Whilst HPV is not dangerous to the unborn baby, pregnant women are advised to inform their doctors if they have suffered from HPV.

The Hepatitis Vaccine

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that can be spread by infected blood and other bodily fluids such as semen. It is spread in a similar manner to HIV but is even easier to catch due the concentration of the virus in the blood. If you are pregnant with hepatitis B you can pass it to your baby during pregnancy through the umbilical cord and during delivery.

The hepatitis vaccine protects 95% of babies from the disease for most of their lives. It is important to get tested before you conceive. If you discover during pregnancy that you have hepatitis B, the first dose of the vaccine can be administered to the baby immediately at the birth.

Are The Vaccines Safe For Pregnant Women?

Vaccines are generally not recommended for pregnant women. In particular the HPV vaccine has not been tested properly on pregnant women and whilst the indications are that it is safe during pregnancy, more research is needed. If a woman starts the vaccines and then discovers she is pregnant, doctors recommend completing the pregnancy and then finishing the vaccine series. If this situation occurs with the Hepatitis B vaccine, the vaccine will be given to the newborn baby instead.

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