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HPV and pregnancy

HPV is short for human papilloma virus - a sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts, and increases the risk of cervical cancer.

There are different types of HPV - and teenage girls in the UK are now offered vaccination against the most common types, usually through their secondary school.

Women with HPV planning a pregnancy may be concerned about how this will affect fertility and the pregnancy. Get answers here.

Can HPV affect fertility?

There is no evidence that having HPV or genital warts affects the chances of getting pregnant.

Does HPV or genital warts affect pregnancy?

It is important to let your pregnancy care team know if you have HPV or genital warts.

Being pregnant can cause more warts to appear - or bigger warts.

It is safe to treat genital warts during pregnancy, but doctors may decide to wait until after the baby is born.

Doctors may recommend removing bigger warts before vaginal delivery. This can be done surgically, with chemical treatments, or using a painless electric current.

No link has been found between HPV and miscarriage, premature delivery or other pregnancy complications.

Will my baby catch HPV during birth?

There is a small risk of HPV being passed to a baby during vaginal delivery affecting the throat or genitals. If babies do get HPV during delivery, they usually manage to clear the virus on their own.

However, doctors may recommend a C-section ( caesarean) delivery in some cases. They will first weigh-up the risks of the possible infection to the baby against the risks of the C-section operation to the mum and the baby.

What about cervical screening and pregnancy?

If you are planning a pregnancy, doctors may recommend having cervical screening first - especially if HPV has already been diagnosed.

It is also safe for cervical screening to take place during pregnancy if it hasn’t been done beforehand - but let the screening team know you are pregnant.

If abnormal cells are detected on the cervix during pregnancy, these may be monitored during pregnancy and again after the baby is born before deciding whether any treatment is needed.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 08, 2016

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