|Terminology: Uterine polyps are also called endometrial polyps and intrauterine polyps.
What Are The Symptoms Of Uterine Polyps?
With the advent of better diagnostic tools (high-resolution transvaginal ultrasonography, saline-infusion ultrasonography and hysteroscopy), the diagnosis of uterine polyps has increased. Some women are asymptomatic (show no symptoms) at the time of diagnosis, whereas others present with abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting and vaginal discharge.
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
The primary symptom in symptomatic women, is some form of abnormal vaginal bleeding. This could be:
• Heavy menstrual bleeding, heavier than normal for you.
• Spotting between periods.
• Bleeding after douching or intercourse. Particularly if the polyp is large and protrudes into the cervix.
• Bleeding after menopause.
• Irregular periods, menstrual bleedings coming more often than usual.
All menstrual disorders should be reported to your doctor - particularly if they continue longer than 3 menstrual cycles or occur after menopause (when periods have ceased for at least 12 months). Studies show that postmenopausal symptomatic women have the highest risk of polyps containing precancer or cancerous cells. For this reason, symptoms should never be ignored - if nothing else but for peace of mind (less than 1 percent of uterine polyps turn out to be malignant).
What causes brown spotting? List of potential causes.
What can cause a change in my monthly cycle? Different conditions assessed.
Symptoms of cervical polyps: 27 percent of all women with cervical polyps have endometrial polyps. This rises to 57 percent of postmenopausal women with cervical polyps.
Although the removal of uterine polyps (treatment uterine polyps) does not usually result in lighter periods, spotting and bleeding between periods is usually greatly improved or cured.
Uterine polyps can causes a watery, bloodstained discharge from the vagina. This discharge can become foul smelling if a polyp has become twisted and infected.
If a polyp becomes so large that it pushes down into the cervical canal, it can cause discomfort and cramping. Fortunately protruding growths are easier for doctors to spot during a pelvic examination (polyps that remain hidden in the uterus need specialist tools like ultrasound scans or hysteroscopy to see).
It appears that the presence of polyps in the uterus may affect fertility. One study by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece (2008) investigated 83 women who had been diagnosed with either primary or secondary infertility, abnormal vaginal bleeding and uterus polyps. All 83 women were under the age of 35, had been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for at least 12 months and suffered 3 to 8 months of menstrual disorders. All women underwent polypectomy surgery to remove their polyps. Following surgery, menstrual patterns regulated in 92 percent of cases and pregnancy rates soared to 61 percent. You may also find our article on causes of infertility in women useful.
What Is The Difference Between Uterine Polyps And Fibroids?
Both are generally benign (non-cancerous) growths that occur in the uterus. Uterine fibroids however can grow much larger than polyps (a large polyp is the size of a golf ball, a large fibroid could be the size of a watermelon or bigger - see pictures). Fibroids are composed of muscle tissue and are more solid than uterine polyps which are made of softer endometrial tissue. While some of the symptoms are the same, the sheer size of some fibroids can place different stresses on the body.
Both fibroids and polyps can cause:
• Heavy periods.
• Infertility - fibroids account for 3 percent of all infertility cases.
Only fibroids can cause:
• A swollen tummy which may be mistaken for weight gain or pregnancy.
• Pressure on the bladder causing the need to urinate frequently. Or despite a full bladder urinating may be difficult.
• Painful intercourse.
• Pain in the back of the legs.
• Pressure on the bowels that can lead to constipation or hemorrhoids.
• Severe pelvic pain if fibroids degenerate - that is twist and cut off their own blood supply.
• Pregnancy complications, miscarriage and premature births.
Symptoms of fibroids - Top 10 list of signs.
Do fibroids cause pain? - Readers personal stories.
Can fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding?
A few years ago I was struggling with infertility - everything seemed to be going wrong, I had endometriosis and ovarian cysts. I underwent one surgical procedure to clear out alot of the scar tissue from the endometriosis but still didn't stay pregnant (got pregnant but miscarried). Then they discovered I had endometrial polyps, so I had a second surgery to removed them. After that I not only got pregnant but was able to finally carry a baby to term. I was a bit worried when I heard the diagnosis of polyps because my mother died of endometrial cancer. I was afraid I had the same thing but the doctor told me that polyps are nearly always benign and nothing to worry about. They are just troublesome in that they can menstrual problems and infertility. They are not a sign of cancer.
Related Articles: Treatment of uterine polyps.
Over the past year my periods have gone completely irregular, lasting from 8 to 17 days. Finally I rang my ob/gyn and she did an ultrasound and found what she believed was a uterine polyp. The scan can show there is something there, but not what it is. So they did a biopsy and after 8 days of extreme worry, I learned all is fine. No signs of cancer. But the biopsy didn't show any polyp cells so they are still not sure if it a polyp or a fibroid. My doctor said its normal not to get any polyp cells if the polyp has been around for a long time, it can calcify and harden (more common in women over 30 apparently, and I'm 49). Next step is what she calls a sonohysterography. Its an ultrasound with a small camera and they squirt fluid into the uterus to take a good look at it.
Holly, New Jersey
Me and my husband have been trying to conceive for some time, and I just found out that I have a uterine polyp. I've had symptoms for a few years and they've been steadily getting worse - more severe PMS symptoms, painful periods and spotting. I've organized to have surgery - I'd do it just to make the symptoms go away, but if it helps me get pregnant too, I'd be over the moon. The obgyn said that polyps can interfere with the sperm being able to swim up to the egg and also prevent implantation of the embryo.