HPV and Pregnancy

Pregnant women who are infected with HPV and suffer from genital warts are likely to be concerned about the possibility of passing this extremely common sexually transmitted disease on to their child. Although it is not curable, genital warts usually pose a minimal threat to your child’s health during pregnancy.

What is HPV?
One of the most common viruses out there, the human papilloma virus (HPV) affects as much as 80% of the population. There are approximately 100 different strains of the HPV virus, 30 of which are sexually transmitted. Some of the remaining 70 or so HPV strains are responsible for common, ordinary skin warts, like those found on the hands, plantar warts (those found on the bottom of feet), juvenile warts and other types of warts.

Of those HPV strains that are sexually transmitted, some can cause genital warts. However, many strains of the virus produce no HPV symptoms. There is evidence to suggest that when you are infected with HPV your body builds up immunity to the virus. However, it is only to that particular strain that you receive immunity, making re-infection with a different strain entirely possible.

What are Genital Warts?
The difference between genital warts and regular warts is that genital warts only appear in the genital area: in and around the vagina, cervix, vulva, anus, penis and scrotum. Additionally, genital warts spread quite easily through direct contact sexual contact; that is, through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Genital warts look like small cauliflower florets. Genital warts symptoms usually do not include any type of burning or itching. In fact, genital warts are normally painless and flesh-colored in appearance. They may be soft and moist to the touch. However, some genital warts may be so small, you may not even realize you have them.

Some strains of the HPV virus have been associated with cervical cancer. Those strains that cause genital warts are not associated with cervical cancer and are not thought to cause any health problems aside from the genital warts.

HPV and Pregnancy
Pregnant women who have genital warts often find that their symptoms of genital warts get worse during pregnancy. This is because your immune system is naturally suppressed during this time, making you more vulnerable to viruses and infections. As a result, you may find that your warts grow quicker and larger.

HPV Treatment
While there is no cure for genital warts, it is possible to treat and remove the warts, although they may come back again. Genital warts treatment can include:

  • Trichloro-acetic acid (TCA)
  • Bichloro-acetic acid (BCA)
  • Cryotherapy
  • Electrocautery
All of these treatments are done at the doctor’s office. However, if a large area is affected by the genital warts, laser surgery may be suggested. This form of treatment requires the use of anesthesia or an epidural, though.

There are also two types of genital warts home treatments that are available. Both podofilox and imiquimod are topical creams that can be applied to external genital warts. Podofilox also comes in a gel form, works by destroying the wart tissue and requires 4 weeks of consecutive use to be effective. However, this topical medication is generally not recommended for pregnant women as the chemicals can be absorbed by your skin and possible lead to birth defects in your baby.

Imiquimod, on the other hand, actually works by boosting your immune system thereby helping your body to fight the HPV virus. It is important to note, though, that both podofilox and imiquimod are prescription medications. Regular, over-the-counter wart medications should never be used on the genital area.

Lomatrex is another useful treatment for taking care of vaginal warts. Lomatrex is a 100% all-natural genital warts treatment. It offers fast relief from vaginal warts and has few side effects.

Some women may choose to skip HPV treatments during pregnancy. Since genital warts often recur throughout pregnancy, many women find it easier to just wait until after birth to take care of them. Discuss with your health care provider the pros and cons of genital warts treatment during pregnancy.

Genital Warts and Pregnancy
The majority of pregnant women with a past history of HPV and genital warts have healthy pregnancies and birthing experiences. However, HPV can be transmitted both before and, possibly, during birth in women who have an active case of genital warts. Moreover, genital warts can hinder a woman’s ability to have a vaginal birth.

It is not unusual for pregnant women to have genital warts so large that they block the birth canal making a vaginal birth impossible. There is also the risk that the warts may begin to bleed as the baby passes through the birth canal. In some instances, it may be necessary for a woman to have a cesarean section either if the warts completely block the birth canal or are at risk of bleeding excessively during birth. Having a c-section has not been shown to reduce the risk of HPV transmission to a child, though.

HPV in Children
If your child becomes infected with the HPV virus, she may develop warts on her genitals or in her throat (known as laryngeal papillomatosis). Although it is rare for a child to develop warts in her throat, it may require laser surgery to remove them so that they do not obstruct her breathing. Genital warts symptoms in children can remain dormant for up to three years after birth.

Talk with other women about genital warts in our Pregnancy Complications fourm

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