[Question #3855] Genital warts triggered by pregnancy?

32 months ago
10 years ago I got genital warts.  I did not get them treated but they went away on their own in a few months. Since then, I have been in a monogamous relationship. Now, a couple months into my first pregnancy, I had two confirmed genital warts, and now my partner also has 6-7.  I know for a fact I have been faithful and I absolutely believe my partner has too. My questions are: 1. Can hpv warts lie dormant for this long and "reactivate" due to a suppressed immune system (pregnancy)/intense stress? 2. I've never noticed warts in the past 10 years, but could I have had them and simply not passed them to my partner? (I now only have a couple) 3. Does the virus that causes warts always clear or can it be dormant for years? 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
32 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to comment.  Your experience is not all that unusual.  Pregnancy affects your body's immune system and infections which have been dormant for years can re-activate.  Your history of haivng your prior warts resolve on their own is typical and as expected.  The virus can then remain in your body without re-activating unless something (like pregnacny) effects your immune system and allows the infection to re-activate. This is likely what happened to you and is no way suggests other partners or infidelity on anyone's part.  Once your pregnancy is over, the warts will likely regress.  most OBs do not treat warts during pregnancy unless they become large as they represent virtually no risk to you or your child. 

1. Can hpv warts lie dormant for this long and "reactivate" due to a suppressed immune system (pregnancy)/intense stress?
the reactivation more likely reflects the effects of your pregnancy on your immune system than anything else.

2. I've never noticed warts in the past 10 years, but could I have had them and simply not passed them to my partner? (I now only have a couple)
They probably had resolved until you became pregnant.

3. Does the virus that causes warts always clear or can it be dormant for years?   
See above,  I suspect your infection has been dormant until recently.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If any of this is unclear or there are further questions, please use your up to two follow-up questions and I'll try to help.  EWH


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32 months ago
I know you can't speak for other doctors, but why did my dermatologist seem 99% certain that this had to be a new GW infection that had to have entered our relationship in the last 4 years? This has caused much anxiety and grief. Furthermore, why is there so much conflicting information about whether or not the HPV viruses are truly eliminated from the system, or just suppressed? Thank you!
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
32 months ago
The field of HPV and GW understanding has evolved a great deal over the past decade.  This issue of whether, when infection is no longer detectable, it has been completely eliminated or is just suppressed by the infected person's immune system has been a subject of much research and while some still argue that the infection is completely eliminated, most experts now believe that it is just suppressed with the ability to recur during times of relative immunosuppression such as pregnancy or cancer chemotherapy.  Your dermatologist may not be completely up to date on this.  I think your dermatologist is mistaken.  EWH 
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