HPV During Pregnancy
If you have HPV, you're probably wondering how it will affect you and baby throughout pregnancy. We've got answers.
What is HPV during pregnancy?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection. There are many different strains of HPV. Some, called high-risk HPV, can cause cervical cancer. Others, called low-risk HPV, can cause genital warts: raised or flat, round (yep, wart-like) growths on the genitals.
What are the signs of HPV?
HPV usually doesn’t have any symptoms. If you get genital warts, they’re most likely to occur around or on the labia, but warts can also grow in the vagina and on the cervix. Sometimes the warts will grow together and look kind of like a cauliflower and may bleed.
Are there any tests for HPV?
A Pap smear can check for HPV on your cervix. Genital warts are often diagnosed by a physical exam.
How common is HPV during pregnancy?
It might be more common than you think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50 percent of sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives.
How did I get HPV?
By sexual contact. Condoms may help decrease the spread of HPV, but because genital warts can occur on the skin outside of the condom, it’s possible to get them even while having condom-protected sex.
How will my HPV affect my baby?
The risk to your baby is small. At birth, babies of infected moms “can get little polyps on their vocal cords, but that happens very, very rarely,” says Sharon Phelan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico. If the warts obstruct the birth canal, a c-section might be necessary -- but that’s really rare too (see next page for treatments, prevention and more resources).