HPV (or the human papillomavirus) is a very common STD that can cause genital warts. Both men and women are at risk of contracting HPV if they come into skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active infection. Although HPV in women is generally not associated with infertility, the condition can lead to other problems that are known to restrict a woman's ability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. Even if you aren't planning to get pregnant, it's very important to get HPV symptoms checked out and treated, if necessary. HPV can cause precancerous and cancerous cells to grow in the cervix.
Some cases of HPV are very mild, they require monitoring but produce almost no symptoms, and may not even necessitate treatment.
If symptoms do occur, these may include warts or growths, itchiness, soreness or irritation in the genital area. These warts can also appear on other parts of the body. Only certain strains of the HPV virus cause warts. Not very HPV carrier will develop them.
Precancerous Cells And Fertility
Precancerous cells can be treated relatively easily if they are detected early enough. That's why it's so important for all women to attend regular Pap smear tests, particularly women who have already been diagnosed with HPV. If precancerous cells do develop, they must be treated. It is these treatments that may, in some cases, lead to fertility problems later on.
When precancerous tissue is found in the cervix it needs to be removed. There are several methods of doing this. The tissue may be removed by biopsy, by freezing or burning. These treatments may leave some scarring, which could, in future, obstruct the access of sperm cells to eggs that have been released from the ovaries. The treatments may also interfere with the production of cervical mucus. Sperm cells actually need a certain amount of cervical mucus to help them on their way to the egg in the fallopian tubes. If there isn't enough of this mucus, the sperm may never make it to their destination.
If a lot of cervical tissue is taken away, this can weaken the cervix. While a weak cervix does not necessarily prevent a woman conceiving, it may reduce her ability to carry a pregnancy to full term. A woman with a weak or "incompetent" cervix is at greater risk of miscarrying.
Do Not Avoid Treatment
No matter how desperate you are to get pregnant, fear of future infertility is not a good reason to avoid treatment for HPV symptoms. Many women have their HPV treated and go on to have very successful and healthy pregnancies. If you consider the fact that 75 % of the adult population of reproductive age in the United States is thought to have HPV, it's a reasonable guess that many of the women who are affected are still having babies. Besides, neglecting to treat HPV can lead to the growth of cancerous cells, the next stage on from precancerous cells, and that represents a greater risk to your future fertility than HPV treatment.
Cancerous Cells And Fertility
Should precancerous cells be allowed to develop into cervical cancer, the cancer must, obviously enough, be treated. This may involve removing even larger portions of tissue from the cervix, and indeed other parts of the reproductive organs, if the cancer has spread. The more tissue removed, the weaker the cervix can become. Cancer treatment may also involve radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is known to stop ovulation altogether. Some patients find that their menstrual cycle never returns. Increasingly, women who have to go through chemotherapy while they are still of reproductive age opt to freeze some of their eggs. This increases their chances of getting pregnant through IVF when the treatment is finished.
HPV During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant with HPV and you develop active warts during pregnancy, there is a very, very small chance that you might pass on the infection to your baby during delivery. If this is a risk, you may be recommended to have a caesarean section instead of a vaginal birth.