Medically reviewed on September 30, 2022 by Karen Janson, MS, MD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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As one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world, HPV infects millions each year. Symptoms can range from nonexistent to potentially life-threatening. While genital warts and cervical cancer are the most well-known side effects, there may be other aspects of your health affected by an HPV infection, like fertility and reproductive health. 
While human papillomavirus infection, or HPV, usually doesn’t directly cause infertility, some adverse effects linked to HPV could negatively impact fertility in both women and men. Keep reading to learn more about the role HPV plays in your reproductive health.
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a viral infection with more than 200 different strains. The strains vary in how they affect the body and their degree of severity. In some cases, infection can go completely undetected. In others, patients may experience noticeable symptoms such as warts on the genitals or other areas of the body. HPV is most frequently transmitted through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact.
For many individuals, the body will clear the virus within two years. Approximately 10% of the population living with HPV is unable to properly rid the body of the virus, putting them at higher risk of developing complications like cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer. 
Certain infections—especially sexually transmitted infections and diseases—have been known to cause fertility concerns. With HPV, there are underlying issues (affecting both females and males) that can impact your ability to conceive or carry a child to term.
HPV and pregnancy – what are the effects? Any underlying infection or other health condition is often kept top of mind during pregnancy, and an HPV infection is no exception. Even if you’re living with HPV and have no visible symptoms, it’s important to test and monitor your condition closely with your healthcare provider during your pregnancy.
There are a few different ways HPV can affect pregnancy and birth:
Different strains of HPV are associated with varying degrees of symptoms. Some low-risk strains of HPV cause hand, foot, or genital warts, but don’t pose additional risks and often clear up on their own. High-risk HPV strains don’t cause warts but can potentially cause cervical cancer down the road. 
High-risk HPV infection and cervical cancer are very closely tied, as many HPV risk factors may lead to cervical cancer if left unaddressed. Fortunately, medical professionals will typically screen for potential cervical cancer by searching for the presence of precancerous cells on a routine pap smear evaluation.
HPV Tests may also be used, with or without a pap smear, to help identify the presence of a high-risk virus. Early detection is key to managing cervical cancer and taking measures to treat, and potentially cure the disease.
While having cervical cancer doesn’t mean you won’t be able to conceive, cancer treatments themselves may pose a threat to carrying a pregnancy and make having a child more difficult. Early detection and minor surgical treatments may not affect a future pregnancy, but more intensive and invasive treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and hysterectomies could make assistive reproductive technology the only option for having a child. 
While cervical cancer is the most prevalent type caused by HPV, there are other potential cancer risks associated with HPV. According to the National Cancer Institute, prolonged HPV infection with a high-risk HPV strain can lead to the development of cancer in beyond the cervix: 
The risk of fertility issues may arise with treatment for these types of cancers, just as it does for cervical cancer treatment.
While cervical cancer is the most commonly associated fertility issue associated with HPV, it may also have an adverse effect on the male reproductive system, specifically in regard to sperm and semen. HPV is suspected to be a direct caue of male infertility due to its higher prevalence in males who are undergoing fertility treatments with their partners.
A recent study of couples undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments found that one-third of the participants tested positive for HPV. The study found a higher rate of low sperm count and reduced sperm motility in the subjects infected with HPV.  Additionally, a seminal infection with HPV may be a risk factor for pregnancy loss.
Despite the widespread prevalence of HPV, recent medical breakthroughs, such as HPV vaccination, are working to reduce the number of infections. These vaccines may have extra benefits as more research sheds light on HPV's impact on fertility and reproduction. Below we’ll explore ways—both preventative and curative—for you to look after your sexual and reproductive health.
There are a number of ways to decrease your risks of contracting HPV and developing HPV-related fertility issues, including HPV vaccination, protection, and testing:
If you’re one of the 13 million Americans who contract HPV annually, chances are the virus will clear up on its own. However, some treatments are available for persistent, symptomatic HPV infection.
Let’s take a closer look at the specifics for management: 
Contracting HPV doesn’t necessarily have to put a stop to your fertility goals. Aside from these treatment and prevention methods, early detection through pap smears and high-risk HPV testing is often the best way to get ahead of any potential long-term negative effects of the infection.
Knowledge is the first step toward charting your wellness course. If you’re concerned about your sexual or reproductive health, consider an at-home diagnostic test like the Everlywell female HPV Test so you can better understand potential health-related challenges.
At Everlywell, we’ve got your wellness path paved with the knowledge you need to make informed choices regarding your health. From innovative at-home diagnostic testing for men and women to nutritional support and supplements, let us help you find your way to a healthier tomorrow.
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