Genital warts are brought about by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Most pregnant
women who have been infected with HPV and have had genital warts in the past usually
have healthy pregnancies and smooth birthing experiences. However, the virus can
be passed on both before and during birth in women who currently have genital warts.
The good news though is that even if they are not curable, genital warts do not pose
a major risk to your baby’s health during pregnancy.
The occurrence of genital warts while pregnant can be a foremost basis of apprehension
for mothers to be. It puts the unborn child at risk of getting the infection. There
is also a chance that genital warts can be passed along to newborn babies through
a contaminated birth canal.
The symptoms of genital warts get worse during pregnancy since the immune system
gets suppressed normally during this period, making the woman more susceptible to
infections and viruses. Thus, genital warts may become larger during pregnancy.
The main concern is that the unborn baby of a mother infected with genital warts
may contract laryngeal papillomatosis, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms
of this disease can lie dormant for as long as three years following birth. Laryngeal
papillomatosis is when warts develop in the mouth and throat area of the baby. This
may happen when the virus gets passed on through a contaminated birth canal. Since
the mouth and throat area are warm and moist, they provide an excellent breeding
ground for HPV. The virus thus resides in those places and multiplies at a fast rate.
If a baby does become infected with laryngeal papillomatosis, laser surgery is required
at regular intervals to eliminate it so that it would not obstruct breathing. Interferon
therapy may also be used side-by-side with laser surgery in order to further slow
down the course of the said disease.
Another main concern about having genital warts is that depending on the warts’ location,
they may bring about complications during childbirth. Having genital warts can make
a vaginal birth impossible for infected women. There are cases wherein genital warts
become so big that they obstruct the birth canal and cause the mother to have great
difficulty in delivering the baby. Furthermore, the warts may hemorrhage as the baby
goes out in birth. If it is found that the warts completely obstruct the birth canal
or if there is a risk of excessive bleeding of the genital warts during birth, a
caesarean section may be called for.
The treatment options for genital warts for pregnant women are different than those
for other women. Pregnant women should not apply any over-the-counter treatments
for genital warts prior consultation with a doctor. Most over-the-counter medications
for genital warts are salicylic acid-based, making them harmful to the unborn baby.
Furthermore, some prescription medications, such as podofilox, may cause birth defects
since their chemical contents are easily absorbed through the skin.
If you are pregnant and you think you have genital warts, it would be best to consult
your obstetrician. He/she can recommend a treatment plan that is effective and safe
for you and your baby.