Uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps are benign overgrowths that appear in the inner lining of the uterus. Usually, they are non-cancerous cell masses of varying sizes (ranging from a few millimetres to centimetres), nevertheless they can gradually turn in to cancer. Furthermore these polyps typically have large base with a thin stalk that connects it to the uterine lining.
Who is at Risk and Health Complications Associated
Women in the age group of 40-50 are more likely to develop uterine polyps. Furthermore, women who are obese and have high blood pressure, who are taking anti-breast cancer drugs like tamoxifen, and those who had a history of cervical cancer are the most affected groups.
Although it might affect women of younger age group (below 20), chances are way lesser than menopausal women.
Secondly, the polyps may pose complications in pregnancy, either by increasing chances of miscarriages, more often in women undergoing IVF or making one temporary infertile.
Symptoms of Uterine Polyps
- Post menopausal vaginal bleeding
- Uncertain bleeding between menstrual periods
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- Irregular/unpredictable menstrual cycles
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Diagnosis of Uterine Polyps
Diagnosis begins with enquiry about any medical history. Your doctor will ask you about your menstrual cycle and other abnormal symptoms that you might have observed. If he/she suspects growth of polyps, then the following tests are conducted.
1.Endometrial biopsy: A portion of tissue is scrapped out from the endometrial lining and the sample is sent to lab for further testing of the abnormalities present.
2.Dilation and Curettage: It’s a traditional technique wherein the uterus is expanded in an attempt to remove the uterine lining with the help of a spoon shaped instrument called curette.
3.Hysteroscopy: In this test, the intrauterine lining is viewed by inserting a hysteroscope (a flexible and sleek telescope) through the vagina.
4.Transvaginal ultrasound: An ultrasound transducer (a device that emits sound waves for imaging the uterus) is inserted via the vagina to detect the abnormalities. This procedure may be followed by a technique known as sonohysterography wherein the uterus is expanded by injecting sterile fluid with a catheter to get clear images of the polyps.
How to Prepare for the Tests?
Just like any other tests, you need to be ready with your previously existing medical documents and disclose to your doctor if you are taking any sort of medicines. Your doctor will ask you several questions about your health and then move ahead with the tests.
You need to change your clothes and probably wear a gown provided by the clinic while undergoing the pelvic exam. The tests are painless techniques although you might feel a bit uncomfortable- nausea, dizziness for some time. Also remember to tell your doctor if you are under infertility treatment or planning to have a baby.
Treatment of Uterine Polyps
The polyps are treated either with medications or with invasive and non-invasive techniques. In some cases, very tiny polyps detected in without symptoms shrink spontaneously without posing any threat to health.
- A temporary treatment may be done with the help of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists that help to shrink the polyps
- MRI- guided focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) is a noninvasive procedure wherein the polyps are destroyed with application of heat.
Surgery is needed if your doctor suspects the polyps to pose risk of cancer. The following surgical techniques are performed to remove the polyps
- Uterine artery embolization
- Endometrial ablation
- Robotic myomectomy, Hysteroscopic myomectomy abdominal myomectomy
What to expect?
At first we must tell you that uterine polyps are completely treatable. If your doctor has performed surgery, then you will be advised rest for some time along with modifications in diet. You need to be cautious while walking or while any other movements to avoid hurting yourself. With removal of the polyps, you can become pregnant again and other complications will also disappear eventually.
Observing abnormal bleeding all of a sudden might be scary enough and definitely is a cause of concern. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice the aforementioned symptoms to get an early treatment.
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015