A cervical polyp is a growth that develops on the cervix, which is the canal connecting the uterus to the vagina. Sperm must pass through this canal to fertilize an egg. Cervical polyps are tumors, but they are usually non-cancerous, or benign. Cervical polyps can grow either as singular masses or in clusters. They vary in size but are usually around 1–2 centimeters (cm) long.
However, as polyps have a similar appearance to some signs of cancer, it is essential that a doctor checks them to ensure that they are not cancerous. Women most likely to develop cervical polyps are those in their 40s and 50s who have given birth to more than one child. Higher estrogen levels can also make pregnant people more susceptible to them.
It is possible for someone to develop cervical polyps and not experience any symptoms.
Others will notice symptoms, which may include:
- vaginal discharge that may be foul-smelling if an infection is present
- a heavier flow during periods
- spotting between periods
- bleeding after sexual intercourse
- bleeding after douching
- bleeding after the menopause
When should someone see a doctor?
If women experience any of these symptoms, they should make an appointment with our office as soon as possible. While these can be signs of cervical polyps, they could also indicate cancer.
The diagnosis of most cervical polyps takes place during routine pelvic examinations or Pap smear tests. If polyps are present, a our doctors may wish to remove them. The doctor will also take tissue samples, called biopsies, of the polyps to check whether they are cancerous or benign.
Most cervical polyps are benign and are possible to remove surgically. Treatment may not be necessary if the polyps are not causing any symptoms or discomfort, but our doctors will continue to monitor the polyps closely.
There are different methods for surgically removing polyps.
- using polyp forceps to take hold of the polyp and pull it out gently
- tying surgical string around the polyp before cutting it out
- twisting the polyp at its base and pulling it off
Our doctors will then use liquid nitrogen, laser surgery, or electrocautery ablation to destroy the base of the polyp.
For very large polyps, surgical removal will generally need to take place in an operating room at a hospital using local, regional, or general anesthesia.
After the removal of a polyp, the individual may experience some bleeding and cramping. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers should reduce the discomfort.
The polyp or polyps will need testing to check for cancer. If a polyp is cancerous, further treatment is likely to be necessary. The treatment will depend on the type of cancer.
Sometimes, cervical polyps may come away from the cervix on their own. This can happen during menstruation or sexual intercourse.