Uterine polyps refer to the excessive growth of cells that are found on the inner wall of the uterus. This is commonly seen in the lining of the uterus or the endometrium layer, which is why it is sometimes referred to as endometrial polyps. Sizes range from a few millimeters to several centimeters. These cells are attached to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk. A woman can have only one uterine polyp but the numbers can increase too. Most uterine polyps remain inside the uterus but there are instances when they can protrude through the opening of the uterus or the cervix and eventually into the vagina.
Signs, Symptoms, and Risk factors
Uterine polyps don’t usually manifest any symptoms and so they can be hard to detect. Some of the signs of uterine polyps are:
* Irregular menstrual bleeding like having frequent and unpredictable periods, and these periods have irregular lengths and heaviness
* Bleeding between menstrual periods
* Excessively heavy menstrual periods
* Vaginal bleeding even after menopause
Women have greater risks if they are obese, have high blood pressure, in drug therapy for breast cancer, and if they had or currently have cervical polyps and other vaginal infection.
Diagnosing and Treating Uterine Polyps
If the doctor suspects that you have uterine polyps, he or she will perform a series of test to verify this disease process. These tests are transvaginal ultrasound, hysteroscopy, and curettage.
* Transvaginal ultrasound. A device will be inserted into the vagina and this will send out sound waves to create an image of the uterus. Most uterine polyps can be visualized using this method.
* Hysteroscopy. This is a form of treatment wherein a thin lighted telescope will be inserted through the vagina and cervix, and then into the uterus. This will allow a complete examination of the uterus and the doctor will be able to remove any uterine polyp when found.
* Curettage. Like the hysteroscopy, this is a form of treatment wherein the doctor will insert a long metal instrument and scrape the walls of the uterus. Any polyp will be removed and a specimen will also be collected for further testing in the laboratory.
Uterine polyps are not usually cancerous but there are some stages of uterine cancers that may appear as uterine polyps. This is why once the polyp is removed from the uterus, further lab tests are needed to identify if there are cells that are malignant.
Some say that uterine polyps can lead to infertility. This issue still requires further tests but if a woman has uterine polyps and she’s experiencing infertility, the removal of the polyps could boost her fertility.
The presence of uterine polyps also increases the risks of miscarriage for pregnant women. Women who enter into in vitro fertilization treatment, are generally advised to have uterine polyps removed before conducting any embryo transfer procedure.