Cervical polyps are smooth, red, finger-shaped growths in the cervix, the passage between the uterus and the vagina.
What causes cervical polyps?
The cause of cervical polyps is not entirely understood. They may result from infection. They can also result from long-term (chronic) inflammation, an abnormal response to an increase in estrogen levels, or congestion of blood vessels in the cervical canal.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom a woman will notice is abnormal vaginal bleeding that occurs:
Between menstrual periods.
After sexual intercourse.
Cervical polyps may be inflamed and rarely can become infected, causing vaginal discharge of yellow or white mucus. Polyps often occur without symptoms.
How are they treated?
The most common treatment is removal of the polyp during a pelvic exam. This can be done simply by gently twisting the polyp, tying it tightly at the base, or removing it with special forceps. A solution is applied to the base of the polyp to stop any bleeding.
Polyps do not need to be removed unless they bleed, are very large, or have an unusual appearance.
Should cervical polyps be tested?
Almost all cervical polyps are noncancerous (benign). Your doctor may decide to send the polyp to the lab to have it tested, but testing is not always needed.
Who is affected by cervical polyps?
Cervical polyps most often occur in women older than 20 who have had several pregnancies. Most cervical polyps are first discovered during a pelvic exam. Usually only a single polyp develops, though sometimes two or three are found during an exam.
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Kevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology