Women's Health

Genital Warts During Pregnancy

Genital Warts During Pregnancy

Key Takeaways

  • While HPV doesn’t have any negative effects on your unborn child, certain other complications may arise as a result of it.
  • Large genital warts inhibit normal delivery because they keep the vagina from stretching properly.
  • While there is no cure for genital warts, the doctor may prescribe you certain medications for treating the symptoms.

For any pregnant woman, the health and well-being of her unborn child is of utmost concern. Hence, the appearance or diagnosis genital warts are scary and alarming for the mother-to-be. Genital warts during pregnancy will not harm the growing baby or the normal course of pregnancy in any way. They rarely cause long-term health problems.

Genital warts are contagious sexually-transmitted disease that can affect both men and women at any point in life. While it needs to be carefully managed by all, you need to be extra careful if you are pregnant. Let’s understand the causes, risks and complications of genital warts during pregnancy.

Risk factors for Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papillovirus (HPV). It is a sexually transmitted disease. Main risk factors for contracting genital warts are:

    • Having unprotected sex with multiple partners

    • Having sex with a person whose sexual history you are unaware of

    • Becoming sexually active at a young age

    • Having contracted other sexually transmitted disease

In women some types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix and vulva. In rare cases, it can be passed onto to the newborn baby by the mother if she has the disease during delivery time.

Signs and Symptoms of Genital Warts

Not everyone who has the virus will develop genital warts and in fact many may not even be aware they have the infection. For those who develop the warts the virus will be cleared from the body over a period of time. The virus usually goes away on its own. If warts appear, it is usually several weeks after the infection. They are soft, skin colored growths that appear on the genitals or anus. They are not easily visible. The upper portions of the wart feel bumpy to the touch. There may be one or more wart present. In women the warts may be present in the following areas:

    • Inside the vagina or anus

    • Outside the vagina or anus

    • Cervix

It can also appear in the mouth if the person has had oral sexual contact with an infected person.

Sometimes the warts may not be visible. In such cases, the following symptoms may be noted:

    • itching

    • burning

    • vaginal discharge

    • bleeding

Confirmation of diagnosis of genital warts will be done by doctors usually by a physical examination. There are no bloods tests to diagnose genital warts.

Tests for Genital warts during pregnancy

Pregnant mothers are not routinely tested for genital warts.

Many women find the warts themselves or discover they have it in an abnormal pap smear.

If you are not sure about whether you have HPV or not, your doctor will perform a Pap smear to diagnose it.

Affect of Genital Warts on Pregnancy

During pregnancy, if you notice any genital warts or symptoms of genital warts then you must consult your doctor immediately. In the event that a diagnosis of genital warts is confirmed, it is important to remember not to panic. Contracting genital warts during pregnancy is not uncommon, and it is important to know and understand that the developing baby or the pregnancy will not be affected in way.

If you have history of genital warts or HPV, you must tell it beforehand to your prenatal healthcare provider. Even if you had abnormal Pap smear in the past, you must convey it too. While HPV doesn’t have negative effect on your unborn child, certain other complications may arise as a result of it during the course. During the pregnancy, many cells grow and multiply. Therefore, your doctor has to monitor any unusual changes or growth that may be harmful. Moreover, some pregnant women have been reported to develop larger genital warts than usual.

Having had genital warts in the past will not affect the ability of a woman to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Genital warts may not cause problems in pregnancy in most women. Keeping your doctor informed and following the doctor’s instructions should help set your mind at rest so that you can enjoy your pregnancy.

Genital Warts Treatment Available for Pregnant Women

Treatment for genital warts during pregnancy varies from woman to woman. Doctors may choose to opt for treatment only after pregnancy, as the warts themselves do not cause any problems or complications during pregnancy.

While there is no cure for genital warts, doctor may prescribe you certain medications for treating the symptoms. You should never use over-the-counter wart removers for treating your genital warts as they are unsafe and could lead to more pain and irritation. Remember, your doctor will only recommend medication that is safe to use during pregnancy.

If you have large warts that may interfere with delivery, your doctor may possibly recommend you to remove them by surgical procedure. There are several surgical options available for removing genital warts. These include cryotherapy, electrosurgery, excision and laser surgery.

Complications of Genital Warts During Pregnancy

Although genital warts are not known to affect your pregnancy or your unborn child, complications may arise in certain cases. If you are having genital warts during pregnancy, they can grow in size which makes urinating painful. The large-sized warts can also cause bleeding during delivery. They may also inhibit normal delivery because warts avoid the vagina to stretch properly. In this case, cesarean may be required.

Genital warts generally do not pass to your new born baby, but it can happen in rare cases. If it happens your infant can develop warts in their mouth or throat several weeks after birth. This is most common among young mothers who get infected with HPV during the last 3 trimesters.

The Bottom Line

While in most cases, genital warts don’t cause any problem during pregnancy, you must consult your doctor regarding this. The risk of passing infection to your child is very low, but if the warts are large, you should get them surgically removed. Your doctor will discuss with you all the risks and complications associated with these surgical options.