HPV Home > HPV and Pregnancy

For women who are pregnant, HPV can be challenging. Genital warts may block the birth canal, and the mother may need to have a C-section. However, for most women, HPV is not a problem if the warts are no longer present. In rare cases, the virus can be transmitted to the baby during vaginal delivery, but the baby's immune system typically gets rid of the HPV virus.

How Does HPV Affect Pregnancy?

Any expectant mother is naturally concerned about 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.
This article will focus on:
  • The impact of past HPV infections
  • The potential impact on the mother
  • The potential impact of HPV during pregnancy to the unborn baby.

Understanding HPV

HPV is short for human papillomavirus. There are actually more than 100 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 (see HPV Symptoms). HPV can also cause precancerous changes or cancer, including cervical cancer.
Depending on the HPV 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 (see HPV Cure).
A vaccine is used to prevent certain types of high-risk HPV (see HPV Vaccine). This includes types 6, 11, 16, and 18. These four types of HPV were chosen for the vaccine because they cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts cases.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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