Any expectant mother is naturally con cerned about various conditions that can harm her unborn baby. HPV is no exception. Fortunately, in most cases, HPV causes no problems to either the mother or baby during pregnancy.
Let us first get an understanding of what HPV is. HPV is short for human papillomavirus. There are actually more than I00 different types of HPV that can infect humans. Some of these types cause no signs or symptoms. Others can cause symptoms such as common warts or genital warts. HPV can also cause precancerous changes or cancer, includ ing cervical cancer.
Depending upon the MPV type, the body's own immune system may be able to effectively get rid of the virus. In some cases, however, the body is not able to completely get rid of it. In these cases, treatment is focused on the symptoms, not a cure.
Past HPV Infections and Pregnancy
If you were infected with HPV and it got better, either with or without treatment, it is unlikely that symptoms will return during pregnancy. However, you would want to let your healthcare provider know if you have had HPV. This is because the virus can cause tissue changes to occur more rapidly during pregnancy.
There has been no research to show that contract ing HPV during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, preeclampsia, or other pregnancy complications. Thus, HPV is not routinely tested for during pregnancy. However, an HPV diagnosis can be made during pregnancy because of genital warts or an abnormal Pap smear.
If HPV is diagnosed because of an abnormal Pap smear, the healthcare provider may recommend a colposcopy. During this procedure, the healthcare provider uses an electric microscope to look more closely at the vagina and cervix. A small piece of tissue (known as a biopsy) may be removed if the provider sees something suspicious. If there is no evidence of cancer, the healthcare provider will usually recommend waiting until after pregnancy to treat the abnormal cells.
For women who have genital warts, the healthcare provider will also monitor the situation closely, although treatment may not be recommended. This is because the warts often get better on their own or soon after delivery. If treatment is recommended, several different options are available.