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HPV and Pregnancy

How HPV Affects Pregnancy and Birth


Updated July 10, 2009

Pregnancy and an HPV infection can certainly complicate a pregnancy.

Pregnancy can cause genitals warts to grow at a fast rate potentially causing the birth canal to be blocked or making urination difficult for the mother. This can be a reason for a c-section if the birth canal is obstructed. However, a c-section is not usually performed if only active genital warts are present.

Rarely a mother can pass on warts and the HPV infection to the child. If it does occur, the child more commonly develops warts in the mouth and throat. It can be potentially life threatening to the child, but is treatable.

HPV is a Common Virus

HPV is extremely common, affecting up to 80% of women. There are over a hundred different strains if HPV, with a few strains responsible for genital warts.

HPV can be dangerous becuase it does cause cervical cancer. Most women, however, with HPV never develop cancer. In fact, most cases of HPV clear up on their own. It is important to have a regular Pap smear to detect any abnormalities caused by an HPV infection.

How Do I Know if I Have HPV?

HPV can be diagnosed visually if genital warts are present. There is also a HPV test available for women that can determine if HPV is present and if the strain is a high risk, potentially cancer causing type.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts
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