What are uterine polyps?
Uterine polyps are formed by the overgrowth of endometrial tissue. They are attached to the endometrium by a thin stalk or a broad base and extend inward into the uterus. The polyps may be round or oval, and range in size from a few millimeters (the size of a sesame seed) to a few centimeters (the size of a golf ball), or larger. There may be one or several polyps present. Uterine polyps are usually benign (noncancerous), but they may cause problems with menstruation (periods) or fertility (the ability to have children).
What are the symptoms of uterine polyps?
The symptoms of uterine polyps include the following:
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Unusually heavy flow during menstrual periods
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding after menopause
What causes uterine polyps?
The exact reason that polyps form is unknown, but swings in hormone levels may be a factor. Estrogen, which plays a role in causing the endometrium to thicken each month, also appears to be linked to the growth of uterine polyps.
What are the risk factors of uterine polyps?
Risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:
- Being perimenopausal or postmenopausal
- Having high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Being obese
- Taking tamoxifen, a drug therapy for breast cancer
What are the complications of uterine polyps?
Uterine polyps might be associated with infertility. If you have uterine polyps and you’re unable to have children, removal of the polyps might allow you to become pregnant, but the data are inconclusive.
What are the Tests and diagnosis of uterine polyps?
If your doctor suspects you have uterine polyps, he or she might perform one of the following:
- Transvaginal ultrasound.
- Endometrial biopsy
Most uterine polyps are noncancerous (benign). However, some precancerous changes of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) or uterine cancers (endometrial carcinomas) appear as uterine polyps. Your doctor will likely recommend removal of the polyp and will send a tissue sample for lab analysis to be certain you don’t have uterine cancer.
What are the Treatments and drugs of uterine polyps?
Watchful waiting. Small polyps without symptoms might resolve on their own. Treatment of small polyps is unnecessary unless you’re at risk of uterine cancer.
Medication. Certain hormonal medications, including progestins and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, may lessen symptoms of the polyp.
Surgical removal. During hysteroscopy, instruments inserted through the hysteroscope-the device your doctor uses to see inside your uterus —make it possible to remove polyps. The removed polyp will likely be sent to a lab for microscopic examination.
If a uterine polyp contains cancerous cells, your doctor will talk with you about the next steps in evaluation and treatment. Rarely, uterine polyps can recur. If they do, you might need more treatment.