Reproductive Health FAQs

Q

Do you need to be tested for HPV during pregnancy?

A

Pregnancy does not require a change in the usual schedule for HPV and Pap testing recommended by your doctor. If you are due for your next Pap and (if you’re 30 or over) HPV test after becoming pregnant, you should go ahead and be tested. Otherwise, it’s not needed.



Q

Can HPV be passed to a child while in the womb?

A

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it's possible for the HPV virus to be passed from mother to child during birth, but it is "rare." In fact, the agency estimates this occurs in no more than 1.1 cases per 100,000 children. In these extremely infrequent cases, the HPV infection is found in the infant's respiratory tract, which can lead to wart-like growths – most commonly, on the larynx. Early diagnosis and care are key.



Q

Does HPV interfere with your ability to conceive?

A

Having HPV does not interfere with a woman's ability to become pregnant.



Q

Will genital warts affect pregnancy or childbirth?

A

Most pregnant women with genital warts, or a history of them, are unlikely to have any HPV-related complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Although genital warts may grow in number during pregnancy due to changes in the body's immune system, treatment may be delayed until after birth to see if they go away on their own.

Most children born to women with a history of genital warts do not experience any HPV-related complications. Only very rarely is the virus passed to the child, causing warty growths to develop in the infant's throat as a result. Cesarean delivery is not usually recommended as a method of preventing this unusual occurrence.



Q

If you develop a pre-cancerous condition (cervical dysplasia), will it interfere with your ability to have a child?

A

Neither dysplasia nor its treatment will interfere with your ability to get pregnant. However, excisional forms of dysplasia treatment (in which the abnormal cells are removed), there is an increased risk of pre-term delivery, cesarean section or a low-birth-weight baby – particularly if a large amount of cervical tissue is removed. If you want to have children in the future, discuss these potential complications with your physician or other healthcare professional.



Q

Does having cervical cancer always mean you can never have children later?

A

Invasive cervical cancer usually requires the uterus to be removed. However, minimally invasive surgery that preserves the ability to have children may be an option for young women with small tumors. This procedure is called "radical vaginal trachelectomy with laparoscopic pelvic lymphadenectomy."



Q

If you are diagnosed with dysplasia or cervical cancer when you are pregnant, how is it treated?

A

For example, the consensus guidelines published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology state that if a pregnant woman is diagnosed with CIN 2 or 3 (moderate or severe dysplasia), treatment and follow-up examinations should be delayed until six weeks following delivery.

In the case of women with invasive cervical cancer, treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer and of the pregnancy. For cervical cancer found in its early stages, or for cancer diagnosed during the last trimester of pregnancy, treatment may be delayed until after the baby is born.