They may be a few millimetres to centimetres in diameter, and often flat to the wall of the uterus, with a short stalk (pedicle). In some cases, the pedicle is long enough that the polyp protrudes out of the cervix and into the vagina.
Irregular bleeding during the menstrual cycle, or bleeding after sex, may be caused by a bleeding polyp. If the polyp is located near the fallopian tubes, it can create fertility issues by blocking the openings. They can develop either before or after menopause. In rare cases, they are cancerous. It is unclear what causes uterine polyps, although increased estrogen levels, chronic inflammation of the reproductive organs, and clogged blood vessels are all thought to be involved.
Symptoms include abnormal and unpredictable bleeding between periods, excessively heavy periods, or post-menopausal vaginal bleeding. Polyps are diagnosed by curettage, in which a section of the uterine lining is scraped from the womb and examined under a microscope, or by hysterogram (an x-ray of the inside of the womb).
Tissue from the polyp is tested to ensure that it is not cancerous. The majority of polyps are benign. Polyps can be removed surgically using a hysteroscopy (a thin telescopic device inserted through the cervix). Depending on where the polyp is located, general anaesthetic may or may not be necessary for this procedure. The polyp may regrow after it has been removed, and it may be necessary to repeat the removal treatment.
What to do next
Call us to book for the appointment. Our specialists can tell you whether your symptoms are caused by a polyp, and how best to proceed if so.
Removal is a simple procedure, but can reduce symptoms such as bleeding mid-cycle or after sex, and may reduce abnormal discharge. It also reduces the risk of cancer.
Polyps that are growing outside of the cervix, inside the vaginal canal, can be removed fairly easily with a polyp forceps. This is a simple and gentle procedure in which the polyp is grasped at its base, twisted off, and then tied. It may be covered with silver nitrate, which can stop any bleeding that occurs, although this is not always necessary. The polyp will be sent to the laboratory for testing to check for any neoplasia (cell changes).
The process is fairly simple and generally not painful. You may feel some discomfort afterwards, similar to period pain. Our specialists are experienced in dealing with cervical polyps and you will be well taken care of. You can always request a female specialist if you prefer.