Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity. Overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) leads to the formation of uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps. These polyps are usually noncancerous (benign), although some can be cancerous or can eventually turn into cancer (precancerous polyps).
The sizes of uterine polyps range from a few millimeters — no larger than a sesame seed — to several centimeters — golf ball sized or larger. They attach to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk.
You can have one or many uterine polyps. They usually stay contained within your uterus, but occasionally, they may slip down through the opening of the uterus (cervix) into your vagina. Uterine polyps most commonly occur in women who are going through or have completed menopause (peri- and postmenopausal women), although younger women can get them, too.
Uterine polyps attach to your uterus by a large base or a thin stalk and can grow to be several centimeters in size. Irregular menstrual bleeding, excessively heavy menstrual flow or bleeding between ...
Signs of uterine polyps include:
Some women may experience only light bleeding or spotting or may even be symptom-free.
When to see a doctor
Although the exact cause of uterine polyps is unknown, hormonal factors appear to play a role. Uterine polyps are estrogen-sensitive, meaning that they respond to estrogen in the same way that the lining of your uterus does — growing in response to circulating estrogen.
Risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:
Uterine polyps may be associated with infertility. If you have uterine polyps and you experience infertility, removal of the polyps might allow you to become pregnant.
Uterine polyps also may present an increased risk of miscarriage in women who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF). If you're considering IVF treatment and you have uterine polyps, your doctor may recommend polyp removal before embryo transfer.
Preparing for your appointment
Your first appointment will likely be with either your primary care provider or a gynecologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and it can be difficult to remember everything you want to discuss, it's a good idea to prepare ahead of time.
What you can do
For uterine polyps, some basic questions to ask include:
Don't hesitate to ask follow-up questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
If your doctor suspects that you have uterine polyps, he or she might perform one of the following tests or procedures:
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 may send a tissue sample for lab analysis to be certain you don't have uterine cancer.
During a transvaginal ultrasound, your doctor or a medical technician inserts a wand-like device (transducer) into your vagina while you lie on your back on an exam table. The transducer emits sound ...
During hysterosonography (his-tur-o-suh-NOG-ruh-fee), your doctor uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to inject salt water (saline) into the hollow part of your uterus. Using an ultrasound ...
During hysteroscopy, your doctor uses a thin, lighted instrument (hysteroscope) to view the inside of your uterus. ...
Treatments and drugs
For uterine polyps, your doctor might recommend:
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.
Last Updated: 2012-09-25
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