HPV and Pregnancy: 4 Health Issues You Need to Know


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can get HPV if you have sex with a partner who has it. HPV is very common. About 20 million Americans have the virus. Thereabouts 75 percent of sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives.

Over 150 different types of HPV exist. Most types don’t cause any problems. About 40 virus strains can infect the genital tract and may cause genital warts and cancer of the:

  • cervix
  • vagina
  • vulva
  • penis
  • anus

HPV usually doesn’t cause problems during pregnancy. However, you should know about a few rare complications if you’re pregnant and have HPV.

HPV and Pregnancy: 7 Things You Probably Don’t Know

HPV and Pregnancy

Genital warts

Most cases of genital warts are caused by HPV. 30 to 40 strains of HPV that specifically affect the genitals, but just a few of these strains cause genital warts.

Highly transmittable through skin-to-skin contact HPV virus , which is why considered an STI. Fact that HPV is so common that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that most sexually active people get it at some point.


The virus doesn’t always lead to complications such as genital warts. In fact, in most cases, the virus goes away on its own without causing any health problems.

STD are caused by strains of HPV that differ from the strains that cause warts on your hands or other parts of the body. A wart can’t spread from someone’s hand to the genitals, and vice versa.

The type of HPV you have will determine where on your body the warts grow:

  • Warts grow on the vagina, vulva, cervix, or anus in women.
  • Common warts form on the hands or elbows.
  • Grainy growth appear on the balls or heels of the feet called plantar warts.
  • Flat warts usually occur on the face in children and men, and on the legs in women.
  • You won’t feel the warts, but sometimes they can itch or burn.

For the time of pregnancy, changing hormone levels can make warts grow faster than usual. Warts get a warm , moist place to thrive by the increased amount of vaginal discharge from pregnant woman’s body.

Cervical cancer

Immatured cervical cell changes and early cancers of the cervix generally do not cause symptoms for this reason, regular screening through Pap and HPV tests can help catch precancerous cell and prevent the development of cervical cancer.

Possible symptoms of more advanced disease may include abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, or vaginal discharge. Notify your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Abnormal bleeding, such as
  • Bleeding between regular menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding after douching
  • Bleeding after a pelvic exam
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Pain in the pelvic region not related to your menstrual cycle
  • Unusual discharge that may be watery, thick, and possibly have a foul odor
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Pain during urination

These symptoms could also be signs of other health problems, not related to cervical cancer.

Respiratory papillomatosis 

Papillomatosis is a disease in which benign (non cancerous) tumors called papillomas grow in the air passages leading from the nose and mouth into the lungs (respiratory tract) as tumors can grow anywhere in the respiratory tract, they most commonly grow in the larynx (voice

box)—a condition called laryngeal papillomatosis in which papillomas may vary in size and grow very quickly. They often grow back after they have been removed.

Most people who encounter HPV never develop a related illness however, in a small number of people exposed to the HPV 6 or 11 virus, respiratory tract papillomas and genital warts can form. Notwithstanding the fact that scientists do not fully understand why some people develop the disease and others do not, the virus is thought to be spread through sexual contact or mother with genital warts passes the HPV 6 or 11 virus to her baby during childbirth.

Head and neck cancer

Most people who are exposed to high-risk HPV will not get cancer, patients unable to get rid of their HPV infection, and the virus creates damage that eventually causes it to grow which often takes many years for the HPV infected cells to become cancerous. We cannot predict whose infection will disappear and who will develop cancer. Head and neck cancers that happen as a result of HPV infection occur in the part of the throat that includes the the base of the tongue and the tonsils.

In head and neck cancer is diagnosed, the tumor itself can be tested for HPV. This is currently the only way to test if a cancer in the throat is related to HPV.

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