Human papillomavirus or HPV is the name for a group of viruses transmitted by skin-to-skin . HPV can affect fertility in both men and women.

It is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), but people can also acquire it in other ways. According to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of people will have an HPV infection at some point in their life, many without realizing.

Doctors consider different strains of HPV either low- or high-risk. The two most high-risk strains of HPV are HPV 16 and HPV 18, which are more likely to cause serious complications, such as cancer.

In general, however, of HPV infections clear up without treatment within 2 years, without causing any adverse effects.

In this article, learn about how HPV may affect fertility in both men and women.

sad young couple looking at pregnancy test
The HPV virus may affect the fertility of both sexes, making conception more difficult.

In general, research shows that any infection, including HPV, makes it more difficult for a woman to conceive and remain pregnant. However, it is important to remember that most cases of HPV clear up without any need for treatment.

The (ACOG) list scarring and blockages in the fallopian tubes as potential risk factors for infertility.

This type of damage can sometimes be due to STIs, such as HPV, but the ACOG do not list HPV as a specific contributor to infertility. How much HPV influences a woman's fertility still needs .

Women with HPV may experience:

  • Difficulties getting pregnant: HPV may the embryo's ability to implant itself in the wall of the womb or uterus. HPV infections can also damage the embryo.
  • Increased risk of miscarriage: There is a between HPV and the risk of pregnancy loss and spontaneous preterm birth, but these risks depend on the type of HPV a person has contracted. Studies show a between cervical HPV infections and pregnancy loss.

It is vital to remember that the body's immune system clears most HPV infections without any additional treatment.

There are several ways to reduce the likelihood of contracting HPV.

  • Get vaccinated: HPV vaccines are for both men and women, and provide protection against several types of HPV and genital warts.
  • Make sure partners are vaccinated: Sexual partners can easily transfer HPV between each other. If one partner has HPV, it is likely that the other partner will get it. Making sure partners are vaccinated can help prevent transmission.
  • Practice safe sex: Using condoms reduces the risk of getting and transferring HPV. However, condoms are at preventing HPV infection as they are at preventing the spread of other STIs, as HPV can affect areas not covered by a condom.
  • Get regular Pap smears: Regular Pap smears help screen for HPV, including strains that may increase the risk of cervical precancer and cancer.
  • HPV-positive? Get vaccinated anyway: showed a positive association between vaccination and higher pregnancy rates and lower rates of miscarriage, even in people who already had HPV.