Most mothers are aware that both you and your baby share the same immune system during pregnancy. So what does that mean if you are dealing with an active, wart-causing HPV infection? Luckily the risks associated with having HPV while pregnant are extremely low. Likewise, transfer to your baby, although possible, is both very low chance of occurring and typically clears up on its own. There are some definite concerns to keep in mind, however, and we have noted them here in detail for you.
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How does having genital warts affect pregnancy?
Genital warts are very rarely known to put any risks on your pregnancy itself, with regards to the health and safety of your baby. According to recent research, the chance for your baby to contract your HPV infection remains around 5%. Even within that small number, most babies clear up the infection on their own with no assistance required. There are extremely rare cases of complications but their chance of occurring is minute, so there is no need to stress yourself out with worry.
A pregnant woman with genital warts can experience some changes however, due to the effect of pregnancy on the body.
Here are a few things that are possible to occur:
- Warts grow faster and larger,
- Warts can begin bleeding,
- More warts appear.
If you are pregnant and suspect you have genital warts, do not guess. See a doctor for confirmation. Mistaking herpes for genital warts can have a devastating, and often fatal effect on your baby during vaginal birth in some situations.
Some of these symptoms are due to the fact that pregnancy naturally weakens your immune system. For a virus like HPV, it can become more symptomatic and more warts can appear while your immune system is in such a weakened state. The cause of potential mass growth is related to strong surges in pregnancy hormones. None of these issues will impact the health of your unborn baby and thus are only problematic with further complications.
Complications of genital warts during and after pregnancy
While rare, complications from warts in pregnancy can certainly take place. One such complication is that the pregnancy-induced growth of internal warts can ultimately block your cervix or urethra making it hard to urinate. If this occurs it will doubtlessly be noticed during your standard pregnancy checkups and either wart removal or a cesarean section will be performed in order to help you deliver your baby easily and safely.
Additional complication can only occur when your HPV infection is transferred to your child and he or she does not overcome the infection. Complications that affect your child will only be experienced post-birth.
- Neonatal conjunctivitis,
- Recurrent respiratory papilomatosis.
Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, also known as laryngeal papillomatosis, will sometimes manifest much later in your child’s life. This extremely serious condition causes tumors and warts to grow in your child’s respiratory system and vocal cords. Recurrent respiratory papilomatosis requires prompt care as the tumors can block airways or cause other problems. To learn more about genital warts in children, see this article. Conjunctivitis is a serious eye problem that can cause blindness and eye damage. Prompt treatment by a doctor is necessary.
How to treat HPV during pregnancy?
Treatment of HPV during pregnancy varies between whether you have a low-risk strain or high-risk strain of the HPV virus. For women with a high-risk strain that causes cancer, treatment is almost always left at monitoring only. If precancerous cell changes are found, very little can be done during pregnancy except confirmation. The normal treatment for these cell changes can cause pre-term labor and thus any treatment is put on hold.
Women with high-risk HPV are more likely to delivery prematurely or suffer from complications such as preeclampsia. These additional risks are not found in women who only have genital wart strains.
Low-risk strains of HPV cause genital warts. With these strains treatment, if any, will simply manage any aggravating symptoms. Doctors generally seek to avoid any unnecessary treatments on pregnant mothers. Due to the almost nonexistant threat genital warts pose, treatment is very frequently left until after the baby has been delivered.
There are no HPV cures available and the HPV vaccine is not recommended for any woman who may be pregnant or for individuals who already have been exposed to the virus.
Treatment for warts while pregnant will generally be removal or used to treat symptoms that have gotten out of hand. As mentioned previously, only in rare situations is removal treatment needed. Learn more about genital wart treatments in this article.
The situations when a doctor may opt for wart removal include:
- Internal warts interfere with the cervix or vaginal canal.
- Warts partially or fully block the urethra.
- In cases of extreme pain or discomfort.
Generally treatments for warts and pregnancy do not go very well together. If you were previously taking prescribed medication for your warts such as creams, inform the prescribing doctor immediately when you become pregnant. More often than not, treatment will be ceased. This does not mean that you must suffer from wart discomfort or itching during your entire pregnancy. There are multiple over the counter remedies that are safe to use during the course of pregnancy. If unsure, inquire with your personal care physician before using any product.
There are no over-the-counter wart removal options recommended or safe for the genital area or pregnant women. Wart removal treatments commonly used on hands and other parts of the body can seriously burn, injure or scar the sensitive tissues in your genital area. Never use an OTC wart remover on genital warts.
Best products to treat genital warts during pregnancy
This is a compilation of products that can help treat the itchiness, pain or discomfort common with genital warts during pregnancy. While side effects from genital warts are rare, your likelihood of experiencing symptoms increases during pregnancy due to the faster growth and spread. Never try to remove genital warts yourself. All products listed below are for symptom relief only, and are safe for the genital area and pregnant mothers. For more info on common genital wart symptoms, see here.
- Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream
Cost: $15 for a 2-pack.
Benefits: Rated safe for both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Eliminates the itchiness and irritation genital warts can cause. This product is gentle and effective on the sensitive skin found in the genital area.
Works for: Itchy and irritated warts in the genital area as well as aloe to help heal bleeding or damaged warts.
Where to find: Amazon.com, Wal-mart, Target, Walgreens or most drugstores.
- Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
Cost: $6 for a pack of 8.
Benefits: Safe for pregnant mothers. All natural colloidal oatmeal is the primary ingredient. Coats irritated and itch prone skin to give long lasting relief and protection. Easy to use whenever you take a bath. Fragrance free and dermatologist recommended.
Uses: Itchy or irritated warts in multiple areas. Easier application than creams.
Where to find: Amazon.com and Wal-mart online and in-store.
- Caladryl Clear Lotion
Cost: $8 per bottle.
Benefits: Eliminates both itch and pain immediately. Safe for pregnant mothers. Dries clear and quick, no greasy mess like with other creams. Works when other anti-itch creams don’t. Analgesic properties provide effective relief from pain.
Uses: Relieves painfulness and itch of warts, protects skin from further irritation.
Where to find: Amazon, CVS, Wal-mart.
Genital warts rarely pose any risk to mother and child during pregnancy. There is no evidence of wart-causing strains of HPV contributing to miscarriages, premature labor or any other complications that can affect your baby before pregnancy. While transmission is possible, it is exceedingly infrequent and most cases clear up on their own without symptoms.
Treating warts during pregnancy via removal is generally not recommended but a doctor can remove problematic warts. There are a variety of OTC products that can help reduce annoying symptoms of your warts without endangering your baby, feel free to use them if necessary.