At The Woman’s Health Pavilion, our gynecology specialists in Queens and on Long Island have extensive experience diagnosing and treating polyps of the cervix and uterus. On this page they have provided answers to questions that are commonly asked by our patients.
If you have questions or concerns about polyps, request an appointment with a gynecologist or support staff at any of our Long Island locations. We see patients 7 days a week and offer same-day appointments for urgent conditions.
What are polyps?
Polyps are fleshy growths that grow from the lining of internal organs; they can grow, for example, from the inner lining of the sinuses or from the colon (large intestine). Polyps may develop in a group or individually, and typically range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Our gynecology specialists commonly treat the following two types of polyps:
- Uterine polyps, also called endometrial polyps, which grow from the lining of the uterus.
- Cervical polyps, which grow inside or at the opening of the cervix.
What causes polyps?
We do not know exactly what causes polyps of the cervix and uterus. These polyps tend to be more common in women who are:
- In their 40s and 50s
- Taking certain medications (e.g., tamoxifen)
What are signs and symptoms of polyps?
In some cases, polyps may cause no symptoms at all. Many women with polyps, however, notice the following symptoms:
- Heavy periods
- Vaginal bleeding between periods, especially after intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Inability to become pregnant
- Recurrent miscarriage
How are polyps diagnosed?
Diagnosis depends on the type of polyp:
- Cervical polyps are often discovered during a routine pelvic exam. Cervical polyps look like a “tongue” of tissue that can be seen protruding from the cervix during speculum exam.
- Endometrial polyps are usually diagnosed by trans-vaginal sonography (ultrasound). In this type of sonogram, a probe is inserted into the vagina and sound waves are used to image the internal organs. To help diagnose polyps, we may instill sterile water into the uterus during sonography (called a “saline sonogram” or “sonohysterogram”). This diagnostic procedure, performed in each of our offices, highlights the inner contour of the uterus. Polyps are easily diagnosed by saline sonography.
Are polyps dangerous?
In most cases, polyps are benign (not harmful). Occasionally, polyps can be cancerous. We generally remove polyps when they:
- Are causing symptoms
- Might be cancerous
- Occur in reproductive-aged women
Do polyps interfere with pregnancy?
Limited data suggest that polyps are associated with infertility and that removal of polyps improves pregnancy rates. Some data also suggest that polyps increase the risk of miscarriage. For these reasons, most gynecologists remove known or suspected polyps in women planning a pregnancy.
What are risk factors for polyps?
While no definite cause has been determined for polyps, risk factors include the following:
- High levels of estrogen, such as with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Chronic inflammation
- Use of tamoxifen (e.g., for breast cancer)
How are polyps treated?
The most effective way to treat polyps is by removing them. The type of procedure performed depends on the type of polyp:
- Cervical polyps are usually easily removed during an office visit using excision (cutting), cryotherapy (freezing), electrocautery, or laser surgery. Cervical polyps that are removed in the office often re-grow, because it is difficult to remove the entire stalk without anesthesia.
- Uterine polyps are usually removed hysteroscopically. During hysteroscopy, a thin, illuminated telescope is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. Once the polyp is visualized by hysteroscopy, it can be easily removed with special instruments.