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STDWatch
Hannah Kingston

Jul 06, 20227 min read

HPV and Infertility

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According to the CDC, HPV is the most common STI, and it typically affects teenagers and young adults. Although most HPV infections are cleared by the immune system within two years, some cases can lead to genital warts and certain types of cancer.

Have you ever wondered whether HPV can make you sterile? Just keep reading to learn the answer.

Can HPV cause infertility in females?

Most cases of HPV in females won’t lead to infertility, but there’s still a small risk of fertility problems from the infection and its treatment. Genital warts don’t cause infertility, but high-risk strains of HPV and their treatment could cause some problems.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 95% of all cases of cervical cancer around the world stem from an HPV infection. In some cases, the treatments used for cervical dysplasia and cancer can affect a woman’s fertility or her ability to carry a pregnancy to full term.

HPV and cervical dysplasia treatment typically involves removing the affected tissue from your cervix. Different methods can be used to achieve this, including:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)
  • Cone biopsy

Although most women won’t develop any fertility problems from these treatments, a small amount can experience a narrowing of the cervical opening called stenosis. This can make it difficult for sperm cells to enter the uterus, leading to decreased fertility.

Can HPV cause infertility in males?

Some evidence suggests that HPV infection could cause fertility problems in males, although most men with HPV can get a woman pregnant. According to a study published in the Journal of Pathogens, HPV infection can affect sperm motility.

Does HPV cause miscarriage?

Some studies have found that HPV infections in men and women can increase the risk of miscarriage. A study published in the journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology*  *found that pregnancies that result from HPV-infected semen have a higher risk of early miscarriage.

HPV treatments can also increase the risk of developing an incompetent cervix or cervical insufficiency. According to the Mayo Clinic, an incompetent cervix happens when weakened cervical tissue leads to preterm birth or pregnancy loss.

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Associationalso found a higher risk of preterm birth in cases of high-risk HPV infections during pregnancy, regardless of whether the mother had received cervical treatment.

HPV vaccine and fertility

Although genital warts don’t prevent pregnancy, you should still protect yourself against infection by getting vaccinated. The HPV vaccine protects both male and women from the most common low-risk and high-risk types of HPV. The HPV vaccine is considered to be extremely safe, and it doesn’t affect male or female fertility.

Another way to keep yourself safe from HPV is to make sure you get tested regularly. You can learn more about affordable, convenient, and comfortable at-home STD testing at STDWatch.com.

Sources

Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet - cdc.gov

Cervical cancer - who.int

Human Papillomavirus Infection, Infertility, and Assisted Reproductive Outcomes - hindawi.com

The role of human papillomavirus on sperm function - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Incompetent cervix - mayoclinic.org 

Association Between Human Papillomavirus Infection Among Pregnant Women and Preterm Birth - jamanetwork.com


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