CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

HPV During Pregnancy

If you have HPV, you're probably wondering how it will affect you and baby throughout pregnancy. We've got answers.
save article
profile picture of Jennifer L.W. Fink
By Jennifer L.W. Fink, Registered Nurse
Updated March 2, 2017
Hero Image

What is HPV during pregnancy?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection. There are many different strains of HPV. Some, called high-risk HPV, can cause cervical cancer. Others, called low-risk HPV, can cause genital warts: raised or flat, round (yep, wart-like) growths on the genitals.

What are the signs of HPV?

HPV usually doesn’t have any symptoms. If you get genital warts, they’re most likely to occur around or on the labia, but warts can also grow in the vagina and on the cervix. Sometimes the warts will grow together and look kind of like a cauliflower and may bleed.

Are there any tests for HPV?

A Pap smear can check for HPV on your cervix. Genital warts are often diagnosed by a physical exam.

How common is HPV during pregnancy?

It might be more common than you think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50 percent of sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives.

How did I get HPV?

By sexual contact. Condoms may help decrease the spread of HPV, but because genital warts can occur on the skin outside of the condom, it’s possible to get them even while having condom-protected sex.

How will my HPV affect my baby?

The risk to your baby is small. At birth, babies of infected moms “can get little polyps on their vocal cords, but that happens very, very rarely,” says Sharon Phelan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico. If the warts obstruct the birth canal, a c-section might be necessary — but that’s really rare too (see next page for treatments, prevention and more resources).

Related Video

What’s the best way to treat HPV during pregnancy?

Most of the time, no treatment is necessary during pregnancy. Various topical meds can be used to “freeze off” genital warts; some of those can be used, if needed, during pregnancy. If the warts are really extensive, they can be removed surgically.

What can I do to prevent HPV or genital warts?

Your best bet: Don’t have sex with someone who has HPV or genital warts. Your next best bet: practicing safer sex. Using condoms can decrease, but not entirely eliminate, your chances of getting genital warts.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have HPV or genital warts?

“After having normal Paps, I got an abnormal one early on in the pregnancy. I had a colposcopy, and everything looked ‘okay.’ I’ll be getting another Pap in the next few weeks.”

“I had a LEEP years ago to remove cells (part of the reason for my short-cervix issues now). Last year, my doctor started doing HPV blood work, and I always come back positive, but my Paps have been normal. I get one every six months now but refuse to do a colposcopy for fear that I’ll further damage my cervix. As long as my Paps keep coming back normal, I’m okay with that.”

“I had an abnormal Pap last year. I went in for a colposcopy (the doctor said it looked good, and I had mild dysplasia). Had a follow-up Pap in July (the doctor said that Pap came back abnormal and I needed another colposcopy in November). Since then, I’ve changed OBs because the old one was too far, and I wanted to start a relationship with the new one before I got pregnant.”

Are there any other resources for HPV or genital warts?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

pregnant woman getting a flu vaccine
Why You Should Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman taking her temperature
How to Safely Treat a Fever During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman suffering from a cold at home
How to Combat Colds During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
sick woman laying on couch
How to Handle the Flu While Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
person sudsing their hands before washing
Here’s How to Wash Your Hands Properly
By Liz Callahan Schnabolk
How to Cope With a Sinus Infection During Pregnancy
How to Cope With a Sinus Infection During Pregnancy
By Korin Miller
Graves' Disease During Pregnancy
Graves' Disease During Pregnancy
By Vera T. Fajtova, MD, endocrinologist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Harvard University
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman sitting at doctor's office
The Flu Shot Is an Easy and Effective Way for Pregnant Women to Protect Themselves and Baby
By Fiona Havers, MD, MHS
pregnant woman filling out forms at doctor's office
Pregnant Women Who Get a Flu Shot Reduce Risk of Hospitalization by an Insane Amount
By Stephanie Grassullo
pregnant woman getting flu shot
ACOG Releases New Guidelines for Flu Shots During Pregnancy
By Anisa Arsenault
ADVERTISEMENT
mom who was diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy, with her newborn baby and partner.
My Cancer Diagnosis During Pregnancy Saved My Life
By Julianna Guevara
woman with cystic fibrosis tells her story of getting pregnant
My Cystic Fibrosis Pregnancy Defied the Odds
By Maxine Craig
pregnant woman wondering if viruses and colds are dangerous to her unborn baby
Q&A: Are Viruses Like Cold or Flu a Danger to My Unborn Baby?
By The Bump Editors
ADVERTISEMENT
close-up pregnant belly
Fifth Disease During Pregnancy
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
pregnant woman hands belly
Pregnant? Here’s Why the Flu Shot Is a Really Good Idea
By Anisa Arsenault
Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
Chlamydia During Pregnancy
Chlamydia During Pregnancy
By Sharon Phelan, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Thrombophlebitis During Pregnancy
Thrombophlebitis During Pregnancy
By Deborah Ottenheimer, MD
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) During Pregnancy
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) During Pregnancy
By Rebecca Kolp, MD
Lyme Disease During Pregnancy
Lyme Disease During Pregnancy
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List