If you’ve had HPV in the past, or have just been diagnosed with it, you may be worried about your ability to conceive naturally as well as if you’ll be able to carry your pregnancy to term.
Although HPV does not itself cause infertility problems in women, it does lead to issues that can prevent you from conceiving naturally or carrying your pregnancy to term.
Whether or not you’re planning on becoming pregnant, it’s important that you be tested for HPV, particularly if you’re showing HPV symptoms.
One of the main concerns of HPV is that it can cause both cancerous and precancerous cells to grow inside of the cervix.
It’s these cells that you need to be concerned about if you’ve been diagnosed with HPV and are planning on becoming pregnant.
HPV and infertility – What is it?
HPV, the human papillomavirus, is a virus that is responsible for genital warts. Most of the time these warts are too tiny to be visible and are generally quite harmless.
There are over 100 different types of HPV strains and about 15 of these strains can lead to changes in the cervical cells.
Both women and men are at risk of getting HPV if they come into direct contact with someone who has an active viral infection.
Symptoms of HPV are usually very minor and this is why the virus is often well established before the infection is detected.
Symptoms include itchiness, the growth of warts in the genital area, and irritation in the genital area. In rare cases, HPV warts can appear in other areas of the body as well.
For many women who contract HPV, no treatment at all will be needed as the body’s own immune system is able to flush out the infection without any complications or risk to fertility.
It’s very important to remember that you can pass the HPV virus on to your partner so be sure to use protection during sex until your HPV virus is treated.
HPV, Infertility, and Precancerous Cells
If testing for HPV comes up positive for precancerous cells, they can be treated successfully and easily if detected soon enough.
This is why it’s so important that women have an annual Pap test for early detection. Any precancerous cells will have to be treated immediately to avoid fertility problems later on.
If precancerous cells are detected they’ll need to be removed from the cervix. Removal is done using several different methods: by burning them off, by freezing, or by doing a biopsy.
There is a chance that any of these treatment methods can leave behind some scarring which can cause infertility problems in the future. Scarring can prevent sperm from reaching the eggs for fertilization.
Another complication that can lead to infertility is if too much of the cervical tissue is removed.
This will weaken the cervix and while this won’t prevent you from getting pregnant, it can put you at risk for miscarriage.
Risks of Infertility from HPV Treatment
Due to the risk of infertility from HPV treatment, many women are worried about being treated for this virus. It’s important that you undergo treatment no matter how concerned you are about facing infertility issues in the future.
Most women who have HPV treatment go on to conceive naturally and without any complications.
Avoiding treatment due to fear can cause precancerous cells to become cancerous, leading to further risk of infertility from cancer treatments which usually include chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy can stop your ovulation cycle during treatment with a risk of permanent problems with your menstrual cycle.
Managing HPV and Infertility
It’s important that you see your doctor at least once a year for your annual Pap smear as soon as you’re sexually active whether or not you’re planning to get pregnant.
If your Pap smear indicates that you have HPV, you’ll be monitored very closely. Your doctor will need to know if the HPV virus is progressing any further and if any precancerous cells are present.
In some cases, abnormal warts and cells may disappear without any intervention, but those that don’t will have to be removed.
Removal is done either using a topical medication or by having them surgically removed.
If you’re planning on becoming pregnant you’ll need to have warts removed prior to conception since unprotected sex will spread the infection to your partner.
Your partner will also need to be tested for HPV before you try to conceive. You’ll need to let your doctor know your medical history if you’re already pregnant and have had HPV.
Your doctor will need to know if you’ve been treated for HPV either with medication or if you’ve had HPV warts removed surgically.
Surgical removal of warts or cells can often weaken your cervix, leading to miscarriage. For this very reason alone your doctor will want to monitor your pregnancy very carefully if you’ve had HPV.
With a bit of pre-planning, HPV and infertility issues are easily managed and dealt with if you or your partner are concerned about HPV complications.