Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection during pregnancy

A pregnant woman who has human papillomavirus (HPV) is more likely to develop genital warts than a woman with HPV who is not pregnant.

  • Genital warts may increase in size, bleed, or become infected with bacteria.
  • In rare cases, genital warts may affect the birth canal. In these cases, a cesarean delivery, or C-section, may be necessary to prevent bleeding that could result from tearing the warts during a vaginal delivery.

Treatment may be recommended to prevent complications during the pregnancy. The following treatments are safe for a pregnant woman with genital warts:1

  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and bichloroacetic acid (BCA)
  • Cryotherapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)
  • Surgical removal by electrocautery or excision

During a vaginal delivery, a woman can transmit the HPV infection to her baby, although this is very rare. The baby may develop growths in his or her throat (laryngeal papillomas) rather than genital warts. Because HPV can be present but not active (latent), it is possible for warts that were transmitted during delivery to appear up to 3 years after the baby's birth.

Citations

  1. Wiley DJ, et al. (2002). External genital warts: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 35(Suppl 2): S210–S224.

Last Updated: July 2, 2008

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