Uterine polyps are soft red outgrowths from the lining of the womb (the endometrium), usually less than 1 cm in diameter, which often flatten to fit the cavity of the uterus.
The stalk of the polyp (or pedicle) is usually short, but sometimes it grows long enough for the polyp to project from the cervix (the lower opening of the womb). Polyps are prone to bleeding, and a uterine polyp that develops near the fallopian tubes may obstruct the opening of the tubes, possibly leading to difficulty with becoming pregnant. Uterine polyps can develop in pre- or post-menopausal women. Very rarely, polyps can be cancerous.
Many women who have uterine polyps show no symptoms at all. In others, one or more of the following symptoms may be present:
- Irregular menstrual bleeding, such as bleeding varying amounts at frequent but unpredictable intervals
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Excessively heavy menstrual periods
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
A diagnosis of polyp is often made by hysteroscopy. Hysteroscopy is a procedure where a thin a telescope is inserted into the uterine cavity allowing the surgeon to look inside the uterus. An ultrasound scan can also detect a uterine polyp but ultrasound scan is not always correct especially in younger women who are still having menstrual periods, thickened fold of the lining of uterus may be interpreted as polyps on an ultrasound scan. . To make an accurate diagnosis, hysteroscopic examination is often needed. The final diagnosis of uterine polyp is made when polyp is removed and sent to the laboratory. The laboratory confirms the presence of polyp and what type of polyp it is.
Occasionally other diagnostic techniques such as a hystosalpingography (x-ray of uterus is taken after filling it with a dye) and saline sonography (ultrasound scan is done after filling the uterine cavity with normal saline) may detect uterine polyps. It is important that a tissue sample from the polyp be sent for biopsy to rule out cancer.
Once identified, polyps can be removed surgically through a hysteroscopy. A general anesthetic is sometimes required for this procedure. Uterine polyps, once removed, can recur. It’s possible that you might need to undergo treatment more than once if you experience recurring uterine polyps. If the polyps are found to contain cancerous cells, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) becomes necessary.