Women who have HPV during pregnancy may worry that the HPV virus can harm their unborn child, but in most cases, it won't affect the developing baby. Nor does HPV infection -- which can manifest itself as genital warts -- usually change the way a woman is cared for during pregnancy. It is important, however, to let your obstetrician know if you have HPV.
Here's what women need to know about HPV and pregnancy.
Sometimes, there are no symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease. If symptoms are present, they may include one or more of the following:
Bumps, sores, or warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina
Swelling or redness near the penis or vagina
Weight loss, loose stools, or night sweats
Aches, pains, fever, and chills
Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
Discharge from the penis or vagina (Vaginal discharge may have an odor.)
Women trying to become pregnant often ask if they need a specific test for HPV just to be sure they are not infected with the virus. They don't.
If a woman has been having regular Pap tests, any abnormalities on those would have alerted her doctor to check further for HPV. Once a woman is pregnant, a Pap test will be taken at the first prenatal visit for women who are not up to date on screening. If it shows abnormalities, the doctor will order more tests.
Additional tests could include an HPV test. HPV is associated with cervical cancer. Current recommendation is to reflex to HPV testing on ASCUS pap. HPV testing would not/should not be done on LGSIL or HSIL. Or the doctor may decide to do a colposcopy, in which a lighted device is used to closely examine the cervix for abnormal tissue changes.
Trying to Get Pregnant, History of HPV
A woman with a history of HPV should be sure her doctor knows. She should tell her doctor whether she has a history of genital warts, tissue changes in the cervix (such as an abnormal Pap test), a history of surgical treatment for abnormal pap, or other problems. Her doctor will want to monitor her closely, because more rapid cell changes can occur during pregnancy.
Pregnant, With HPV
No link has been found between HPV and miscarriage, premature delivery, or other pregnancy complications.
Also, the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby is considered very low.
If a pregnant woman tests positive for the high-risk types of HPV associated with cervical cancer, the doctor will monitor her during the pregnancy to watch for cervical tissue changes.