symptoms, risks for the pregnant woman and fetus, treatment

HPV infection during pregnancy can present with a variety of symptoms, but most cases are asymptomatic. Women who want to get pregnant should know that the HPV vaccine should not be given during pregnancy and that it does not treat an existing infection.

Dr. Mihaela-Alexandra Radu, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, provides more information about HPV infection during pregnancy.

Symptoms of HPV infection during pregnancy

HPV strains (human papillomavirus) are responsible for genital warts or dysplasia of the cervix and vagina.

Appearance of genital warts is a visible symptom represented by lesions, also known as warts, usually located in the genital area, small or large in size, which can cause discomfort, burning or itching (itching). However, it should be noted that not all women infected with HPV develop genital warts.

Appearance of precancerous lesions – Some strains of HPV can cause pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix, called cervical dysplasia or squamous intraepithelial lesions, which are usually asymptomatic and detected by screening tests such as the Babes-Papanicolaou test.

It’s all about the HPV virus the appearance of vaginal dysplasia. In the case of these changes in the study of Babes-Papanicolaou, colposcopy is necessary, i.e. microscopic examination of lesions of the vagina and cervix. Colposcopy is performed in the office, it is painless, but there may be some discomfort when applying the substances used for the study.

How does HPV infection affect the fetus during pregnancy?

It should be noted that most pregnant women infected with HPV have a successful pregnancy and give birth to healthy children, since the infection does not directly affect the fetus and does not cause complications. However, in some rare cases, there is a theoretical risk of transmitting the virus to the fetus during pregnancy or vaginal delivery.

In these cases, the presence of the virus in the fetus is insignificant, most of the time it is spontaneously inactivated. Rarely, it manifests itself through an oropharyngeal infection, leading to the appearance of warts in the respiratory tract of the newborn (in the mouth or throat). However, the risk of HPV transmission to the fetus is low.

In addition, there are management measures to minimize the risks associated with HPV infection during pregnancy, such as careful monitoring of cervical lesions and evaluation on a case-by-case basis to determine the best delivery option. The presence of HPV before pregnancy is not a contraindication for her.

Risks of HPV infection during pregnancy in pregnant women

As for a pregnant woman, the risks of contracting HPV are associated with the possibility of developing lesions on the cervix (cervix). These lesions may require additional monitoring and treatment to prevent progression of cervical cancer.

It is also extremely rare that some complications may occur during childbirth. If there are genital warts that are large or located near where the baby is due, they can cause bleeding or interfere with the natural process of vaginal delivery. In this case, in order to avoid complications, it may be necessary to excise them before delivery or opt for a caesarean section.

HPV vaccination during pregnancy is contraindicated

HPV vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy. Vaccination is indicated before pregnancy or after childbirth.

However, it should be noted that HPV vaccination does not cure an existing infection, but rather protects against the most common strains that are associated with the development of genital warts and cervical cancer.

Vaccination is aimed at prevention and is more effective before exposure to the virus. The most widely used vaccine today is 9-valent, that is, it protects against 9 aggressive strains.

How to Treat an HPV Infection During Pregnancy

There is no targeted treatment for HPV, either during or outside of pregnancy. In most cases, the virus is spontaneously inactivated by the immune system.

Treatment refers to warts and precancerous lesions on the cervix and vagina. Treatment during pregnancy varies depending on the situation and the severity of HPV lesions.

In most cases, HPV infection during pregnancy does not require treatment. However, if treatment for genital warts is deemed necessary, a doctor may recommend topical treatments to reduce or eliminate them.

However, some treatments are contraindicated during pregnancy, so it’s important to discuss the safest options available with your OB/GYN.

If a pregnant woman has precancerous conditions (cervical dysplasia), she will be closely monitored with screening tests such as the Babesh-Pap test and colposcopy (microscopic examination of the cervix).

Treatment for cervical dysplasia includes loop excision as well as other procedures. But, if possible, they will be postponed until the end of labor, so as not to increase the risk of preterm birth.

Treatment of HPV infection during pregnancy focuses more on monitoring and managing symptoms and progress, as well as the safety and health of mother and baby.

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