HPV And Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know
In this article, we’ll tell you all the necessary information regarding HPV and Pregnancy.
What Is HPV?
Human Papilloma Virus, also known as HPV is the most common of hundreds of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) worldwide, although it is transient in nature. It is transmitted via sexual contact, be it oral sex or intercourse.
Exchange of bodily fluids, sperms, sweat, and skin-to-skin contact are the most common ways to transfer HPV from one person to another – thus it comes under the apt category of ‘Sexually’ Transmitted Infections.
There are over 50 strains of HPV and each strain contributes to a different type of HPV that can affect varied genitals of the body, in the form of genital warts and in worse cases in the form of life-threatening cancers.
The good news is that the immune system usually fights off HPV infections by itself and a person may never even be aware that they had contracted HPV at some point in their lives.
Even better if an individual has at some point in their early years, visited a medical professional for the administration of the HPV vaccine, namely Cervarix and Gardasil. Cervarix is mainly for women so that they do not become victims of HPV related Cervical cancer. Whereas, Gardasil is for both women and men to avoid type 16 and type 18 strains from contributing to vulva, vaginal, anal, or penile cancer.
Also Read: HPV FAQs
HPV And Pregnancy
Now, there is a worldwide concern for women when it comes to topics related to pregnancy and the Human Papilloma Virus.
Females are worried that if they are pregnant and have contracted HPV at the same time or pre-pregnancy, will their children also be victims of HPV? It is normal for a to-be mother to worry about the impact of her health on her unborn child’s health. But do not worry, as women who have HPV while they are pregnant are at no risk of transferring the infection to their developing baby.
If a woman has genital warts around her groin, vulva, or vagina and is ready to deliver the baby, there is no problem during the delivery process at all – both, the pregnancy and the baby turn out to be healthy.
In the event that the mother has been tested positive for high-risk HPV associated with cervical cancer then the medical professional will ensure frequent tests and on-point monitoring for cervical tissue changes throughout the pregnancy duration.
- Often some pregnant women who are victims of HPV will face abnormal tissue changes. When this occurs, doctors reformulate the treatment plan and postpone treatment so as to avoid a situation that involves premature labor.
- As genital warts are the most common symptoms for low-risk and high-risk HPV patients, the probability of a female having these warts is significantly high. The medical professional will ensure that the genital warts are constantly monitored on a weekly or fortnight basis. Also, as pregnancy leads to major hormonal changes, warts can spread to parts other than the genitals, multiply in size and also bleed in certain cases.
- If genital warts seem to worsen more and more as pregnancy approaches, then the doctor would advise surgically to remove warts as they will cause obstruction during the delivery of the baby. Besides surgery, the patient can also opt for chemical treatment, burning or freezing treatment, or electric current treatment.
HPV And Pregnancy: Precautions & Warnings
- There are cases reported regarding the transfer of harmful and ugly-looking genital warts to the fetus during the process of vaginal delivery. Not only is this a typically sad welcome into the world but it also has significant negative and serious health repercussions for the newborn child. The newborn can face breathing abnormalities in combination with growth and organ development disabilities.
- Women who have been diagnosed with high-risk HPV would simultaneously also become a victim of cervical cancer. Due to this, there is a substantial amount of tissue removal in the cervix to abstain cancer in the cervix from developing. Women who have undergone this process are known to experience pre-dated deliveries in combination with abnormally low and unhealthy baby weight. The only way to avoid this side effect from reaching your baby is going through an established and successful pregnancy management plan.
- The ideal route for pregnant women who were or are victims of cervical cancer and are also sexually active at present is vaccination against HPV and a high frequency of visits to the hospital for regular PAP tests. This vaccination is known to safeguard a female from genital warts and cancer-causing scenarios. Remember that the Cervarix vaccine is suggested only for females who are in the age range of 9 and 26. Also, it is alright to administer the vaccine while the woman is pregnant.
HPV And Pregnancy: Does It Affect Fertility?
The Human Papilloma Virus by itself is not enough to significantly impact a female’s fertility. But the precancerous cells that arise with HPV when treated, may raise the risks of issues while conceiving.
In order to remain sexually fit and healthy while a female has HPV, multiple procedures such as cone biopsy, cryotherapy, and LEEP are undertaken. These procedures alter the natural consistency of the cervical mucus due to the narrowing of the cervix. This change in width will lead to slowing down the passing of sperm and make it harder to fertilize the egg, which increases the overall risks of being a victim of infertility.
Think about it, if procedures such as cone biopsy and LEEP are opted for then the cervix leads to the path of dilation way too early, which directly impacts the chances of miscarriage or abnormal birth. On a positive note, your doctor will constantly monitor your cervix via ultrasound treatment machines and will advise you for bed rest or stitches to strengthen your cervix.
The best step to adopt for females is vaccination against HPV in their early days. It is safe for a long period of time in life and the benefits are naturally preferred over contracting genital cancer or undesirable warts on the genitals.
March 17, 2020 Sam Bell