It is natural for a woman to have pregnancy concerns
because she naturally wants the best for her unborn
child. HPV is a fairly common concern for pregnant women
because the virus is a sexually transmitted disease
that is linked with cervical cancer. Because many of
the strains of HPV have no symptoms, pregnant women
can be worried that they have the virus without knowing
it. Also, most women don't know what, if any, effect
HPV has on pregnancy, the fetus or the birth.
Many women are concerned about the implications of
HPV and pregnancy, especially if they are aware that
they have been infected with HPV at some stage in their
lives. Because HPV is such a common virus and very contagious,
it is likely that a high percentage of pregnant women
will have been infected with the virus. However, it
has been shown that HPV has no adverse effect on the
developing fetus and prenatal care does not need to
be any different than with a normal pregnancy.Women who have had regular Pap tests can be confident
that these tests would have shown the presence of HPV
and that they have been screened for the virus. Most
doctors also take a sample for a Pap smear at the first
prenatal visit, so if this doesn't come back with a
positive result, you can safely assume you don't have
If you know that you have had HPV in the
past or have had genital warts at any time, you should
tell your doctor so that you can be monitored for any
developments during your pregnancy. The mother's immune
system is suppressed during pregnancy, which leaves
her susceptible to viral infections more than normal;
it is possible that latent HPV symptoms could appear
at this time.
Here is a summary of the possible implications of HPV
- Currently, there is no link between HPV and miscarriage
or a premature delivery.
- It appears that HPV does not cause any complications
- If you have genital warts when you become pregnant,
your doctor will just monitor their possible growth
during your pregnancy. You go through a range of hormonal
changes during your pregnancy which may cause the
genital warts to increase in size and number. Usually,
treatment or removal of the warts is delayed until
after you give birth, except in extreme and rare cases.
- If your doctor thinks that your genital warts could
interfere with the delivery process by obstructing
the vagina or cervix, they can be safely removed by
surgical means or by laser or cauterization. Ask your
doctor if you have any concerns.
- The risk of transmitting HPV to your baby is low.
In most cases, if the baby is infected with the virus,
their own immune system clears it from their system.
- In extremely rare cases, the virus can cause respiratory
papillomavirus in the baby which is a more serious
form of HPV, where warts grow on the throat or respiratory
tract. I stress that this is very rare.
- There are two schools of thought about the wisdom
of Caesarean section as a way to prevent HPV transferring
to the baby during labor. Some doctors believe it
a valid strategy while others believe that, because
the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby during
birth is so low, the risks of surgery outweigh the
potential risk of HPV infection.
However, statistics show that the majority of pregnant
women, who have had HPV or genital warts, have a perfectly
healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery. Most women,
who have the virus through pregnancy, likewise experience