Genital Warts & HPV During Pregnancy Care Instructions

During pregnancy, women experience so many conditions that may seem extremely dangerous, even though they aren’t, and some that can actually be dangerous but show no symptoms. These conditions are more prevalent during pregnancy because of a weaker immune system. One of these conditions during pregnancy, which can be especially scary, is genital warts. The skin condition is generally worrying, but when warts show around the vaginal area during pregnancy, you may be concerned that it may affect your unborn baby.

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Here’s everything to know about genital warts, including the symptoms, causes, treatment, and if there are any risks associated with genital warts for you or your baby.

What Are Genital Wars?

Genital warts are soft, fleshy growths found in the vagina, on the cervix, or genital area. They can appear alone or in batches and look like small cauliflower pieces. The small skin-colored bumps are a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV).

So, you can get them from having sex with someone who has HPV. There are many HPV strains, and some will lead to the development of genital warts.

  • Approximately 1% of sexually active grownups have genital wartsand over 6 million people in the United States become infected with genital warts annually.
  • Also, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 42.5% of the American population 18 and older has been exposed to the virus, meaning that many pregnant women have the virus.
  • Also, according to Very Well Family, it’s common to have the virus and not have any noticeable warts or other symptoms. In fact, most people, including pregnant women with HPV, do not know that they have it, and this highly contagious virus can be spread even with no visible symptoms.


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Causes & Symptoms Of Genital Warts During Pregnancy

As described above, genital warts can be spread through sexual contact especially skin-to-skin anal, oral and genital sex. And just because you can’t see warts doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t have HPV or that you can’t catch the virus. It’s also possible to get warts in your throat after oral sex with someone who is infected. According to Americanpregnancy.org, Genital warts grow faster during pregnancy due to discharge and changes in the immune and hormone system.

The visible signs of HPV may include generally painless genital warts, occasional itching, bleeding, or burning. For most people, warts typically disappear within several months, and if they don’t, it’s better to seek treatment, which is effective in clearing them up.

Some HPV strains can change cells so much that they cause genital cancers, including penile, oral, and anal cancers.

Also, some HPV strains may increase the risk of preterm birth, infertility, and pregnancy loss. However, this isn’t generally found in the HPV strain linked to genital warts. Still, it’s best to do regular pap smears, especially if you’re sexually active, to check your overall health.

Can Genital Warts Affect You Or Your Baby?

If you have a history of the virus, it’s advisable to inform your prenatal doctor and let them know if you’ve had warts or an abnormal Pap smear before. Even though HPV rarely affects you or your unborn child, your healthcare provider will want to check for any abnormal growth or other changes. Also, you may develop bigger than usual genital warts during pregnancy, which need to be checked. If you’re not sure whether you have the virus, your doctor will check for it as part of prenatal care.

You need not worry much if you have the HPV strain that causes genital warts during pregnancy because it won’t likely affect your baby’s health. So, warts during pregnancy are not generally viewed to pose a severe threat to you or your baby, not unless they become big enough to block your vaginal opening. Big warts can also make urinating painful and may cause bleeding during childbirth. Sometimes, genital warts on the vaginal wall may also make it hard for your vagina to stretch properly during delivery. In such cases, the doctor may recommend a cesarean section.

As described above, some HPV strains may be linked to fertility problems, preterm birth, and miscarriage. However, according to a study, the results are still inconclusive. Also, up to 40% of pregnant women have HPV, which may lead to various issues in pregnancy, including pre-labor rupture of membranes (PROM).

According to Healthline, in rare cases, genital warts can be passed on to your child, who will normally develop them in his mouth or throat a few weeks postpartum. However, most babies usually overcome the symptoms by themselves or through early medical intervention by a health care provider.

Treating Genital Warts

There’s no cure for warts. However, treatment during may pregnancy differ from case to case. For example, there are medications available to treat the warts to make them less noticeable. However, very few of these medications have been cleared to be used during pregnancy. If you took prescriptions for genital warts before pregnancy, make sure to speak to your doctor, so he informs you of any health risks they may pose for your baby. In most cases, the doctor will advise that you stop taking these medications during the pregnancy period.


Here are treatment options for genital warts during pregnancy:

  • The doctor may do nothing– Since most warts don’t usually cause any complications, your healthcare provider may prefer not to treat them. Even though they may increase in size and volume, they don’t necessarily pose any threat to you or your baby during pregnancy.
  • Topical points– Your doctor may also apply a topical ointment to eliminate warts during pregnancy if they’re confident that they’re safe for you and your baby. However, avoid treating warts with over-the-counter wart applications. These wart removers may cause more pain and irritation because they’re harsh, mainly when applied to sensitive genital tissue.
  • Safe wart removal– If your warts are large enough to interfere with delivery, your doctor may opt to have them safely removed. Genital warts can be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), surgically removing them, or laser surgery, where laser currents are used to burn them off.


Sources: Healthline, Americanpregnancy.org, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Very Well Family


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