What are polyps?

A polyp is like a skin tag; an overgrowth of cells. An endometrial polyp is where the cell overgrowth is located in the lining (endometrium) of the womb (uterus). A cervical polyp is an overgrowth that develops in the cervix and within the canal that connects the uterus to the vagina.

What causes polyps?

The exact cause is unknown but they tend to grow when there is more of the hormone oestrogen in the body.

Are polyps dangerous?

Polyps are generally non-cancerous (benign) growths although some can be cancerous or can eventually turn into cancer.

What are the symptoms of polyps?

Polyps often cause no symptoms and are found coincidentally during an ultrasound scan. However, if they do cause symptoms these could be irregular menstrual bleeding which may be unpredictable and variable in length and heaviness. There may be bleeding between periods or excessive heavy menstrual bleeding. After the menopause they may cause vaginal bleeding.

How are polyps diagnosed?

They can often be suggested by ultrasound scan but may require sonohysterography (an ultrasound scan where fluid is inserted into the uterus to give a better view of the lining of the womb) or direct visualisation during a hysteroscopy for confirmation.

Do polyps need to be removed?

Small polyps (<1cm) may be managed expectantly because they may spontaneously regress. Polyp removal should be considered in symptomatic women, postmenopausal women or women with fertility issues.

How are polyps removed?

A cervical polyp can be removed in the outpatient clinic and it is not painful. Women may experience mild discomfort similar to a period pain afterwards and should avoid intercourse for 24-48 hours.