The growths that appear on the cervix are known as cervical polyps. These growths that usually appear on the surface of cervix open into the vagina and appear grayish white, reddish-purple, or cherry-red color. A Polyp may vary in size and shape, but mostly look like a thin stem with a bulb. Mostly polyps are non-cancerous. They appear either in groups or alone and measure one or two centimeters long. Though most polyps are non-cancerous, they should be removed and checked for malignancy because certain rare types of cancers of the cervix can look like polyps.
Types of Polyps
Polyps on the cervix are of two major types:
Ectocervical polyps: These types of polyps grow on the outer surface of the cervix. Postmenopausal women are at risk of developing these polyps.
Endocervical polyps: These types of polyps grow from inside the cervical canal. Perimenopausal women are at risk of developing these polyps.
What are the causes of cervical polyps?
Cervical polyps are mostly common in those women who are in their 40s and 50s.
The exact cause of cervical polyps is mostly unknown. However, body’s unusual or abnormal response to estrogen could be the one. In general, the cause of polyps include:
- High estrogen levels
- Clogging of blood vessels
- Inflammation of the cervix, vagina or uterus
A woman is more likely to develop polyps if she has elevated estrogen levels as this sex hormone rise and fall throughout a woman’s life.
A woman has high estrogen levels during childbearing years and also during pregnancy as well. Therefore, cervical polyps are more likely to appear during this time. Certain types of chemicals in cosmetics and airfreshners can also affect estrogen levels.
Inflammation of the cervix can occur due to many causes – such as:
- Changes in hormone levels
- Bacterial infections
- Yeast infections
- Sexual transmitted infections (STIs) – herpes & papillomavirus (HPV)
What are the symptoms of cervical polyps?
Cervical polyps symptoms: Many women may remain asymptomatic. However, symptoms if present may include:
- Postmenopausal bleeding
- Spotting between periods (inter-menstrual bleeding)
- Heavy flow during periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
When should you consult a gynecologist?
The above symptoms should be considered as warning signs to consult a gynecologist. You should make an appointment as early as possible because, the symptoms could also indicate cervical cancer.
Diagnosis of Cervical Polyps
Cervical polyps are mostly detected during a routine gynecological checkup or pelvic examinations (Pap smear tests). Your gynecologist can see cervical polyps by inserting a speculum (this device helps in opening the walls of vagina to have a better view of the cervix) into the vagina. Your gynecologist will take a small tissue sample (biopsy) to check the presence of any malignancy or cancerous growth.
Cervical Polyps Treatment
How are cervical polyps removed?
Polypectomy is a minor procedure to remove cervical polyps. Your gynecologist can perform this procedure during a pelvic examination. The doctor uses a forceps to pull polyps off. This is a relatively simple, swift and painless procedure and can be done under anesthesia.
However, if you have a large polyp, your doctor will consider performing surgery under anesthesia to remove your polyps.
You must see a gynecologist if you notice any unusual symptoms because some of the relatively common gynecological symptoms could indicate serious health issues – which can cause some serious long-term consequences if not detected in time.