Human Papillomavirus and Pregnancy
HPV or Human papillomavirus may affect you during pregnancy. Many such infections may adversely impact your ability to conceive or your pregnancy. Know more about HPV during pregnancy and how you may effectively manage this medical condition and reduce the chances of complications that may arise due to this infection.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus or HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. There are approximately 150 kinds of HPV and out of these around 40 viruses may cause genital warts or may cause various kinds of cancer (vagina, cervix, anus, vulva or penis).
How Common Is It?
HPV is a very common kind of sexual infection and in America alone 20 million people are affected by it. Around 75 percent of sexually active people may experience HPV once in their lifetime. However, many times people remain unaware of their condition.
How Is It Transmitted?
HPV may get transmitted in following ways:
- Vaginal sex, anal sex and in some cases oral sex.
- In same-sex partners through genital contact.
- No evident symptoms and thus remains undetected in many cases.
- A single person may catch one or more type of HPV infection.
Can HPV Affect your Chances of Getting Pregnant?
Most cases of HPV go undetected because there are no evident symptoms. Therefore in case you have HPV without any symptoms, are no major complications that may arise in getting pregnant.
Trying to Get Pregnant with History of HPV
If you are trying to get pregnant with a history of HPV, there is no major difficulty that you may face. However, the increased levels of estrogens may aggregate the condition of genital warts, and may also lead to bleeding and infection. It is recommended that if you have a history of HPV, you should talk to your doctor about the same and discuss various complications that may arise.
Pregnant with HPV
If you are pregnant with HPV, following may happen:
- Your doctor may postpone the treatment because of the risk of preterm labor.
- Your genital warts may become bigger, multiply or even bleed.
- In case of bigger warts, your doctor may remove them before the childbirth to clear the obstruction.
Signs and Symptoms of HPV
The signs and symptoms of HPV may often go unnoticed. However, genital warts are the most common symptom. These may warts may appear like:
- Tiny projections
- Tiny bumps with the irregular appearance
- Flat lesions
- In women, warts may appear on the cervix, vulva, vagina and near the anus.
- In men, warts may appear on the scrotum, penis and around the anus.
Diagnosis and Tests
Following are tests used to diagnose HPV in pregnancy:
1. DNA Test
Your doctor will collect some cells from your cervix. These cells will be tested to detect the presence of any kind of cancer.
2. Pap Test
In this test, your doctor will take some cells from your cervical region and study them under a microscope. High-risk HPV that that may cause cervical cancer may get diagnosed in this test.
In this test, your doctor will make use of colposcopy to see your cervix clearly. A solution is applied to the cervical lining that will change the colour of HPV infected cells.
Can HPV Affect Pregnancy and an Unborn Baby?
It is very rare that HPV affects your pregnancy or your unborn baby’s health. Though genital warts may increase or grow at a faster pace in pregnancy due to more vaginal discharge, changes in hormones or compromised immune system.
In very unlikely situations you may pass HPV infection to your baby. In case your baby catches HPV, your baby would overcome the condition on its own. However, in case your baby catches HPV that results in genital warts, your baby may develop warts around the throat or other parts of the body. This rare condition is called recurrent papillomatosis and may lead to serious complications.
Treatment for HPV
Some people are immune to HPV infection, and thus this virus gets eliminated from their bodies. On the other hand, people who catch this infection may have to undergo surgery, freezing, lasers removal, chemical removal or burning of genital warts. However, HPV during pregnancy can be treated in following ways:
1. During Pregnancy
In most cases the doctor will postpone the treatment of HPV; however, you may be closely monitored for the following:
- Cervix will be monitored closely to check any change in tissues.
- Your warts will be checked on regular basis to see if they are growing or bleeding.
- Removal of warts may be considered, in case they may cause obstruct during the birthing process.
- If you are suffering from cervical cancer extra caution will be taken during labour and childbirth.
2. After Delivery
The treatment option after delivery may include conducting a second pap test. This test may be conducted due to the following reasons:
- To estimate the extent of infection and assess various treatment options that may be required.
- In many cases, warts may go away after the birth of your baby. This happens in cases where the warts are not high-risk warts.
- The doctor will make further treatment options after analyzing the seriousness of your condition.
There is no permanent cure available for HPV; therefore it is important that you follow the preventive measures.
- You may take the vaccine (Gardasil vaccine) to prevent HPV. Though the vaccine may not provide you protection against all HPV viruses.
- Necessary precaution during sexual intercourse will be helpful (Using a condom)
- Do not have multiple sexual partners as it may increase your chances of catching HPV.
- You may talk to the doctor about concerns on HPV and know about this infection.
Many women may wonder that can HPV prevent pregnancy, and the answer is no, HPV does not prevent pregnancy but may lead to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The HPV effects on pregnancy can be discussed with your doctor for detailed knowledge on the subject.
Also Read: Infections That Can Affect Pregnancy