Uterine polyps

Uterine polyps or endometrial polyps are formed due to abnormal growth in the innermost layer (endometrium) of the uterus. They are noncancerous (benign), but may cause complications associated with menstruation and fertility. In very few cases, these polyps can turn to be cancerous (pre-cancerous).

The uterine polyps are usually round or oval and range in size ranging from a few millimeters to a few centimeters, or larger. Most of the polyps are small and less than half an inch wide. These polyps are extended into the uterus and are attached with the help of a thin stalk or a large base. They usually appear single or in a group.

In most of the women, uterine polyps do not show any signs and symptoms, but few women may experience light bleeding or spotting.

Uterine polyps are sometimes manifested with the signs and symptoms which include:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Mid-cycle bleeding
  • Excessively heavy menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Infertility

The exact cause for the formation of uterine polyps in unclear. However, changes in the hormone levels such as estrogen may be a factor.

You may be at a risk of developing uterine polyps if you are:

  • In perimenopausal or postmenopausal phase
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Overweight or obese
  • On tamoxifen medication, a treatment for breast cancer

Infertility is the major complication associated with uterine polyps. Removal of uterine polyps may sometimes help you in becoming fertile.

You need to tell your doctor regarding the details of your menstrual cycle and about the unusual symptoms you experience and also mention about your difficulty in getting pregnant. Your doctor will perform a gynecological examination before ordering any other additional tests or procedures.

These tests used to diagnose uterine polyps may include:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound- produces images of the interior of the uterus which helps in determining the abnormalities in the uterus.
  • Sonohysterography-this test is usually performed after transvaginal ultrasound. Clearer images of any growth within the uterine cavity can be known by this test.
  • Hysteroscopy- hysteroscope is inserted into the uterus to examine the inside fo the uterus
  • Endometrial biopsy-through hysteroscope, the doctor collects a tissue from the inner wall of the uterus and sends to the laboratory to check the presence of abnormalities.
  • Curettage-this technique can diagnose and treat uterine polyps. While using hysteroscope, the doctor uses a curette to scrape the tissue which is sent to the laboratory to detect the abnormalities.

Uterine polyps are treated with different methods, which include:

Medications: Medicines such as (progestins or gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists) are prescribed to regulate the hormonal balance to relieve the symptoms. This is only a temporary treatment for the symptoms; the condition may revert once the medications are stopped.

Hysteroscopy: This procedure is used as a treatment method as well as a diagnostic method for the condition of uterine polyps. Your doctor may perform hysteroscopy in combination with surgery to remove the polyps.

Curettage: This technique is effective for smaller polyps. A curette is performed by scraping the lining of the uterus to remove the polyps. This technique is used both for diagnosing as well as treatment.

Additional surgery: This procedure may be necessary if the polyps cannot be removed using other methods, or if they are cancerous. In such cases, a hysterectomy, the surgical procedure to remove entire uterus may be necessary to prevent the spread of cancer cells from the polyps.

You cannot prevent this condition. The only way of self-management is to have regular gynecological checkups. Have a regular check on your risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, or taking tamoxifen to minimize the appearance of the uterine polyps.