The contagion of women with a sexually transmitted disease can interfere with the standard and optimal course of a pregnancy, awakening a series of fears, uncertainties, and doubts around the infected woman who is thinking of conceiving. Although some STDs can be inherited by the fetus or cause premature birth, they do not preclude a pregnancy from occurring in most cases.
HPV is the most common infection transmitted from skin to skin through sexual intercourse; more than 100 types of strains can cause this virus. Although most are harmless, at least 30 variations of HPV are associated with cervical cancer. Many women who have been infected with this condition wonder: can I get pregnant if I have HPV? In this FastlyHealarticle, we answer this question and clarify other doubts about HPV during pregnancy.
What is HPV
HPV is a condition caused by more than 100 different viruses that can cause warts, affect the genitals, and be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected person. The different strains that cause this disease are classified as high or low risk. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts, while high-risk HPV is associated with women with a greater chance of developing cancer of the uterus, vagina, anus, and vulva.
Lesions caused by HPV
Genital wart: it is the most characteristic lesion of this disease. These are small warts that appear in the genital area and have a shape similar to cauliflower. They cause irritation and bleeding and can be very aesthetically unpleasant. Genital warts usually occur due to an infection by serotypes 6 and 11.
Cervical dysplasia: This lesion does not present any symptoms in most cases and is diagnosed after a routine check-up through the pap smear. In cervical dysplasia, HPV is found in the cervix.
Can I get pregnant if I have HPV?
HPV does not make it difficult to get pregnant, so it is possible to conceive while infected with this condition. Likewise, HPV does not affect the evolution of the pregnancy or put the fetus’s health at risk. Fortunately, recent studies have ruled out the possibility of congenital malformations, abortions, premature births, and growth disorders in pregnancies of mothers infected with HPV.
However, there may be some changes in a woman with HPV during pregnancy. In the case of cervical dysplasia, there are no alterations with the disease. Still, in the case of genital warts, it has been proven that HPV is triggered during the first trimester of pregnancy. Still, the lesions usually disappear practically on their own before delivery.
Women infected with HPV in the cervix should be examined more frequently to check that everything is fine during the gestation period and combat the rapid development of cells that can be modified with the hormonal alterations that pregnancy suggests.
Suppose you are infected with this condition, and you are thinking of looking for a baby. In that case, the idea is that you go to the gynecologist for a routine check-up and for the specialist to guide you in the treatment to follow before, during, and after pregnancy. If your type of HPV generates genital warts, it is ideal for removing them before becoming pregnant to prevent a more significant number of lesions in early pregnancy.
How to treat HPV during pregnancy
Cervical dysplasia-type HPV
When HPV is only present in the cervix and does not cause any malignant changes in the cells, it will only be necessary to evaluate the lesion by cytology or Pap smear every three months during pregnancy and every four months after delivery. Sometimes, when the woman has dysplasia, the cells have modified their composition. It is occasionally necessary to perform a surgical intervention to ensure the health of the uterus and the mother during and after pregnancy. However, the latter is scarce.
Genital wart HPV
When genital warts during pregnancy, some substances or topical medications that act on the lesions, controlling their number and size, are recommended. Although many people question the treatment of this disease during the gestation period, it is sometimes essential to reduce the number of warts and stop the bleeding or irritation that these can cause, especially if the proliferation of these lesions during pregnancy can be alarming. Similarly, if you use the proper medications, removing warts during pregnancy does not pose a risk to the health of the mother and the fetus.
HPV in pregnancy: delivery or cesarean section?
One of the most frequent doubts among pregnant women infected with HPV is whether they will be able to give birth naturally or will have to undergo a cesarean section at the time of delivery. The truth is that, although the fetus will be in contact with the virus when it is released through the vaginal tract, the risk of infection is so low that it is not considered necessary to perform a cesarean section solely due to the presence of HPV in the mother.
The cesarean section will be applied when there are complications in the pregnancy that suggest it and that have nothing to do with human papillomavirus infection since newborns are born with antibodies that allow them to defend themselves from the virus and eliminate it from their bodies. However, a moderately severe but infrequent injury can occur to the fetus when it comes in contact with the virus. It is laryngeal condylomatosis. This condition causes hoarseness, coughing, and feeding problems due to the growth of warts in the vocal cords, which can appear up to three years after birth. Laryngeal condylomatosis is so rare that it only occurs in 1 in 200 babies of mothers with HPV.
In some cases, especially when warts have not disappeared at the end of pregnancy and are very large. It is recommended to perform a cesarean section to avoid breaking them during delivery and exposing the fetus to many injuries. However, the decision in most cases is left to the parents.
HPV after pregnancy
During pregnancy, the woman presents multiple hormonal changes that can generate alterations in the organism. Therefore, after delivery, the mother must be thoroughly examined to analyze the changes that HPV may have undergone during pregnancy. In many cases of genital warts, the condition improves considerably.
The check-up with the specialist should be carried out 16 weeks after delivery when all the hormonal changes suggested by postpartum have already occurred in the body. Likewise, to thoroughly examine the HPV status, the specialist will perform cytology, a coloscopy, and, if necessary, a tissue biopsy may be requested.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.