A polyp is a nodule or lump that grows on the inner lining of the organs. An endometrial polyp develops from the endometrial tissue and grows inside the uterine cavity. A cervical polyp originates from the epithelial cells of the cervix and grows on the outside of the uterus, at the top of the vagina. These polyps are usually not very harmful except for their symptoms but chances are around 1 to 3% may turn out to be cancerous.
- Irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Intermenstrual bleeding.
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Bleeding after menopause.
- Infertility in some.
Some do not experience any symptoms instead only identified during an ultrasound (endometrial polyp) or pap smear(cervical polyp).
Causes and risk factors
Endometrial polyps are caused due to estrogen levels. Having certain medications as a treatment for breast cancer can result in higher estrogen levels. Being obese and high blood pressure are other causes. Cervical polyps can be caused due to infection and chronic inflammation.
- Hysteroscopy – An instrument known as a hysteroscope is inserted via the cervix into the uterus. It has a camera attached to it through which the uterine cavity can be viewed and help identify the presence of any polyps. The same instrument can be used to remove the polyps too.
- Hysterosonography (HSG) – Sterile water is injected into the uterine cavity causing the uterus to expand which will help to provide a clearer view of the polyps.
- Pelvic Ultrasound – This procedure provides a view of the internal area and helps identify the presence of any polyps.
The polyps can be of two types
- Symptomatic- in this case, the removal of the polyps will help to resolve the issue caused such as bleeding or discharge.
- Asymptomatic – they need to be removed to exclude the chances of cancer developing.
Medications may be provided to reduce the symptoms, but the effects are temporary. Treatment is the removal of these polyps. Cervical polyps present on the outside of the uterus are comparatively easier to find and remove. Endometrial polyps which are found inside the uterine cavity will require a more detailed procedure. The polyps are removed by scraping or resecting them. Ring forceps are also used to remove the polyps. Some of them may be sent to the laboratory to check if they are benign or cancerous. The treatment is minimally invasive, and, in most cases, local anesthesia is used.
The recovery is fast and there are no major cuts or postoperative pain from this surgery other than mild cramping and slight staining. Polyps once removed do not grow back but there are chances for new ones to come.
Can cervical polyps and endometrial polyps be prevented?
No, they cannot be prevented but regular gynecological check-ups and pap smear tests can help detect them.