What is Cervical Polyp?
What are cervical polyps?
Cervical polyps are small, elongated tumors that grow on the cervix. The cervix is the narrow canal at the bottom of the uterus that extends into the vagina. The cervix connects the uterine cavity and the upper part of the vagina. It acts as a passageway for the sperm to fertilize an egg, which can result in pregnancy. During childbirth, the cervix thins and expands. This allows the baby to pass through the birth canal.
Polyps are fragile structures that grow from their roots on the surface of the cervix or inside the cervical canal. If someone has polyps, they usually only have one polyp and at most two or three.
It’s most common in women who are in their 40s and have more than one child, according to Harvard University. Polyps almost never appear before menstruation in young women. Polyps are also common during pregnancy. This can occur due to an increase in the hormone estrogen.
Cervical polyps are usually benign or non-cancerous, and cervical cancer rarely occurs. Most cervical cancers are due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of genital warts.
Cervical polyp symptoms
Polyps on the cervix may not cause any visible symptoms. However, if you experience a vaginal discharge of white or yellow mucus or abnormally heavy periods, see your gynecologist right away.
You should also call your doctor if you have vaginal spotting or bleeding:
- after sexual intercourse
- After shower
Some of these symptoms may also be signs of cancer. In rare cases, polyps represent an early stage of cervical cancer. Removing them helps reduce this risk.
Ask your doctor how many regular pelvic exams and Pap tests you should have on a regular basis. Recommendations may vary depending on your age and health history.
Why do polyps occur?
It is not fully understood why cervical polyps occur. Their occurrence may be associated with:
- increased levels of estrogen, the female sex hormone
- chronic inflammation of the cervix, vagina, or uterus
- clogged blood vessels
high estrogen levels
Estrogen levels naturally fluctuate throughout a woman’s life. Your estrogen levels will be highest during the childbearing years, any pregnancy period, and the months leading up to menopause.
There are man-made chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen. For example, xenogenes are found in commercially produced meats and dairy products. Chemical estrogens can also be released into foods that are heated in plastic or plastic foam containers. Even some air fresheners contain phthalates, which are estrogen-like chemicals.
An inflamed cervix appears red, irritated, or eroded. Some of the known causes of cervical inflammation include:
- bacterial infection
- HPV infection, which can also cause warts
- yeast infections
- hormonal changes
How are cervical polyps diagnosed?
Polyps are easy for your doctor to see during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor will see a smooth, finger-like growth on the cervix that is red or purple in color. The two types of cervical polyps are ectocervical and endocervical.
Ectocervical polyps arise from the outer surface layer of cells on the cervix. Endocervical polyps originate from the cervical glands and are the most common type of cervical polyp. Postmenopausal women are more likely to have exocervical polyps, and premenopausal women are more likely to have endocervical polyps.
Biopsies or tissue samples of the polyps are taken and sent to a lab for testing. Results usually show benign polyp cells. In rare cases, abnormal cells or precancerous growth patterns known as neoplastic changes may be present.
Treatment of cervical polyps
Sometimes, cervical polyps will spontaneously separate from the cervix. This can occur during a woman’s menstruation or sexual intercourse.
Doctors do not routinely remove cervical polyps unless they are causing symptoms. Removing cervical polyps is a simple procedure that your doctor can do in their office. No pain medication needed. Methods for removing cervical polyps:
- polyp twisting at the base
- tying and cutting surgical suture around the base of the polyp
- using ring forceps to remove the polyp
Methods of destroying the base of the polyp include:
- liquid nitrogen
- electrocautery ablation, which involves the use of an electrically heated needle
- laser surgery
You may experience a brief and mild pain during removal, followed by mild to moderate cramping for several hours. It may occur a day or two after the bloodstain is removed from the vagina.
In some cases, polyps or polyp bodies are too large to be removed in a doctor’s office. If this is the case, you may need a hospital or a surgery at a hospital or surgery center to remove the cervical polyp in the hospital.
For people with cervical polyps, the outlook is excellent. After the doctor removes them, they usually don’t grow back.
Recovery and prevention
Polyp removal is a simple, safe and non-invasive procedure. However, if you have polyps, your risk of developing them again increases. Taking regular pelvic exams helps find any growth early in their development.
Because some infections are linked to cervical polyps, a few simple steps can help lower your risk. Use cotton underwear that allows good air circulation. This prevents excessive heat and humidity, which is the perfect environment for infections. Also, use a condom during intercourse.
Make sure you get regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. How often you should get Pap tests depends on your overall health history and age. Your doctor may recommend a period, which is usually anywhere from three to five years for women without a history of abnormal Pap results.
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