Uterine polyps, although generally benign and quite common, can cause worry. They can occur in women of reproductive age as well as in postmenopausal women. While they may not always cause discomfort, they can be safely removed if symptoms are present.
What Are Uterine Polyps?
Uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps, are extra tissue within the uterus. They can vary in size from small to large and can be single or multiple.
Polyps can have a stalk attaching them to the uterine lining (pedunculated) or a broad base (sessile). They can also develop on the cervix or within the cervical canal.
Recognizing Uterine Polyps
Uterine polyps typically do not cause noticeable symptoms (asymptomatic). However, in some cases, they can present with the following symptoms:
- Excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding between menstrual cycles
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Can Uterine Polyps Cause Infertility?
There is a common misconception that uterine polyps always lead to infertility. However, this is not true. Some women can conceive without being aware that they have uterine polyps.
While uterine polyps do not necessarily cause infertility, they can alter the uterine cavity’s anatomy and affect the microenvironment, making it less favorable for implantation.
If uterine polyps are causing fertility issues, their surgical removal can restore the uterus to its original anatomy, eliminating any interference with embryo implantation or sperm passage through the fallopian tubes, especially if the polyps are located in the tubal angle.
Treatment Options for Uterine Polyps
If necessary, the treatment for uterine polyps is typically surgical. There are two common approaches:
- Outpatient Removal: Most cervical polyps located in the cervix can be removed in an outpatient setting. This procedure is relatively simple and does not require extensive intervention.
- Hysteroscopy: Endometrial polyps, on the other hand, often require hysteroscopy. Hysteroscopy is a surgical procedure where a thin, lighted tube called a hysteroscope is inserted into the uterus. This allows the doctor to visualize the uterine cavity directly and remove the polyps using specialized instruments such as electric loops, small scissors, or forceps. Hysteroscopy can typically be performed on an outpatient basis.
The decision to perform hysteroscopy or outpatient removal depends on the woman’s clinical and reproductive history, which the treating gynecologist will assess.
Understanding uterine polyps and seeking appropriate medical intervention can help ensure optimal reproductive health and overall well-being.