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Home Ask the Experts Ask the Experts Dealing with HPV while pregnant

Dealing with HPV while pregnant

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I am 28-years old, pregnant, and have been dealing with abnormal Paps for nearly a year due to growths on my cervix my nurse told me are due to HPV. They haven't treated me yet, and said they almost certainly won't do so while I'm pregnant. I guess I'm feeling guilty and stupid for getting pregnant while this is going on. Will it hurt my baby, or me? Can I have a normal pregnancy? I just feel like I didn't handle this well!!

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! And let me reassure you that in general, an abnormal Pap test in pregnancy is not dangerous to you or your baby.

Since you have had no treatment to your cervix, I assume that the abnormalities are related to high-risk HPV and are not pre-cancerous. Most all high-risk HPV cell changes are minor and are eventually cleared by your own immune system within about 2 years. The only abnormality that would require treatment in pregnancy is if you actually had cervical cancer, and I’m sure your health care providers have ruled that out by now. Treatment of pre-cancerous cells in pregnancy is not done because the treatment might complicate your pregnancy. There is no known risk of transmission of high-risk HPV strains in pregnancy to the baby.

There is, however, a very rare chance of transmitting low-risk HPV (the strains that cause genital warts) to the baby. If you have genital warts, also called condyloma, discuss this with the pediatrician you have chosen to care for your baby. That way, she or he will know what symptoms to look for in your baby. Talk to your pregnancy provider and make sure you are communicating well about these concerns. It is important to take good care of yourself when you are pregnant—not only for your baby, but also to help support your immune system. If pre-cancerous cells persist after you deliver, they can usually be treated without threatening your ability to have more children in the future. Good luck to you for a healthy pregnancy!

--Beth Colvin Huff, MSN, FNP-BC