C-Section and the Operating Room
Past HPV Infections and PregnancyIf you were infected with HPV in the past and it got better (either with or without treatment), it is unlikely that symptoms will return during pregnancy. You will, however, want to let your healthcare provider know if you have had HPV. This is because the virus can cause tissue changes to occur more rapidly during pregnancy.
HPV and Pregnancy: What's the Impact on the Mother?There has been no research to show that contracting HPV during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, preeclampsia, or other pregnancy complications. Thus, HPV is not routinely tested for during pregnancy. However, an HPV diagnosis can be made during pregnancy because of genital warts or an abnormal Pap smear.
If HPV is diagnosed because of an abnormal Pap smear, the healthcare provider may recommend a colposcopy. During this procedure, the healthcare provider uses an electric microscope to look more closely at the vagina and cervix. A small piece of tissue (known as a biopsy) may be removed if he or she sees something suspicious. If there is no evidence of cancer, the healthcare provider will usually recommend waiting until after pregnancy to treat the abnormal cells.
For women who have genital warts, the healthcare provider will also monitor the situation closely, although treatment may not be recommended. This is because the warts often get better on their own or soon after delivery. If treatment is recommended, several different options are available. For example, a healthcare provider may recommend:
- A liquid nitrogen solution to freeze the warts off
- An acid solution, which chemically "burns" the wart
- Electrosurgery (known as LEEP)
- A laser procedure
In some cases, genital warts can cause problems during pregnancy. For example, the warts may grow or may become larger and bleed. If warts increase in size, this can make it difficult to urinate. If the warts are in the vagina, they can make the vagina less elastic or block the birth canal. If the warts block the birth canal, a woman may need to have a cesarean section (C-section) delivery. However, HPV infection and genital warts are not the only reasons for having a C-section.
HPV research scientists are not exactly sure why in some cases genital warts get bigger during pregnancy. Hormones, a change in the environment, or changes in the immune system may play a role.