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What are the Treatments for Genital Warts in Pregnancy?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The treatment for genital warts in pregnancy is often a little different from the treatments used for a non-pregnant person. Some medications may not be safe for use on or inside the vagina when a woman is pregnant. Instead, doctors may recommend such treatments as freezing the genital warts, which is referred to as cryotherapy, or laser removal. Doctors may also recommend treatment with a topical drug called trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Many of the other commonly used topical treatments are off limits because they have the potential to harm a woman’s unborn child.

One of the most commonly used methods for treating genital warts during pregnancy is cryotherapy. This treatment involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the genital warts. The genital warts are frozen and then allowed to gradually thaw. After the treatment, the tissue that makes up the genital warts gradually dies and falls off. In many cases, however, one cryotherapy treatment is not enough to get rid of genital warts; repeat treatments are often necessary.

Laser removal is also among the most common treatments for genital warts in pregnancy. For this treatment, intense light is concentrated on the warts. This destroys the wart tissue, without harming the developing baby. In most cases, laser genital wart removal can be accomplished without damaging the surrounding body tissues and may cause less pain that cryotherapy. It may, however, prove to be a more expensive option, and there is some chance the wart tissue may eventually return.

TCA is a topical treatment that is also used for genital warts in pregnancy. Many of the other topical treatments are not used during pregnancy since they can be dangerous for the unborn child. Unfortunately, some topical medications can be absorbed through the skin and cause birth defects.

Treating genital warts does not get rid of the virus that causes them, however. This means treatments are aimed at removing the wart tissue, not curing the patient of genital warts. The virus may eventually cause new warts and can be transmitted to another person.

Some women may choose to wait until they have given birth rather than opting to treat genital warts in pregnancy. In some cases, this may work out well. In others, however, genital warts may become large enough to impede the baby’s movement through the birth canal, or they may cause excessive bleeding. In such a case, a doctor may recommend a Cesarean section instead.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By stoneMason — On May 18, 2013

The genital warts caused by the HPV virus disappear after pregnancy. A c-section is required for women with genital warts anyway, so I'm not sure that removing them is a must.

By turquoise — On May 17, 2013

@burcidi-- Keeping the immune system strong helps prevent an outbreak. But there is something about pregnancy (probably the hormones) that trigger outbreaks.

I didn't even know that I have herpes until I was pregnant, I broke out then. I can't speak about the other treatments, but I did have my genital warts frozen when I was pregnant. It was painful for a few days but it removed most of the warts. There were still a few when I delivered my child. I gave natural birth and thank goodness, my son is completely healthy.

Treating genital warts and pregnancy is a very sensitive topic because the virus can be transmitted to the child during birth. And since I don't think a breakout can be prevented, you have to do your best to make them heal and go away.

By burcidi — On May 17, 2013
Is it possible to prevent a female genital wart breakout during pregnancy, because it sounds like most of the treatments cause some discomfort to the mother?

Plus, won't the warts come right back after they are removed? After all, pregnancy is nine months; that's a lot of time.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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