HPV-Positive & Pregnant: What You Need to Know

Image of pregnant woman's stomach

Many women know the key facts about HPV, like its link to cervical cancer. But when it comes to HPV and pregnancy, you may have a lot of questions. Here’s what you need to know if you have HPV while pregnant.

Can HPV Cause Problems During Pregnancy?

HPV can cause genital warts. In some cases, genital warts increase in size and number during pregnancy. While these warts may be somewhat uncomfortable, they are not known to cause any problems during pregnancy. In many cases, genital warts can be safely treated while you’re pregnant.

You may develop abnormal cervical cell changes caused by an HPV infection during your pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend waiting until after you give birth to start treatment for this health issue.

Can I Get the HPV Vaccine If I’m Pregnant?

The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. There hasn’t been any link between the vaccine and adverse pregnancy outcomes, but the data in this area is still limited.

If you’ve received some but not all doses of the HPV vaccine when you find out you’re pregnant, you should wait until after giving birth to get the rest of your shots.

Can I Pass HPV to My Baby During Childbirth?

There is a chance that you could pass HPV to your baby when giving birth, but not much is known about the level of risk involved. A 2016 study found that about 11% of babies born to an HPV-positive mother were found to have the virus as well, but further research is needed to confirm this finding.

Some children born to HPV-positive women develop warts on the vocal cords or larynx. This condition, called laryngeal papillomatosis, may not appear for two to five years after birth.

Can I Give Birth Vaginally If I Have HPV?

There isn’t any evidence that delivering your baby via C-section reduces the risk of transmission. If you develop genital warts that are large enough to create obstacles in the birth canal, you may need to deliver your baby via C-section.

If you have concerns about how your HPV status will affect your child, be sure to talk to your doctor. In most cases, there are no pregnancy complications when an expectant mother has HPV.

  1. Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017.
  2. STDs during Pregnancy – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
  3. HPV Vaccine Recommendations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
  4. Pregnancy and sexually transmitted viral infections: National Institutes of Health, 2009.
  5. Human papillomavirus (HPV) perinatal transmission and risk of HPV persistence among children: Design, methods and preliminary results of the HERITAGE study: ScienceDirect, 2016.