Uterine polyps are unwanted growth of cells on the inner lining of the uterus. These cells grow into benign tumors and extend into the uterus and may be even into the vagina. They are also called endometrial polyps as they stem from the endometrium layer (inner lining) of the uterus. Learn more about Uterine Polyps – Symptoms and Causes by visiting this article.
Diagnosis of uterine polyps
When you present to your gynecologist with the symptoms, after a series of questions, your doctor may ask you to get some tests done. Tests for uterine polyps may include:
- Transvaginal Ultrasound. A thin instrument will be inserted into the uterus through the vagina. The device emits (and absorbs) the ultrasonic sound waves. The device sends the received signals to the screen which will be projected as an image (of the interior of the uterus). Using this imaging process, the gynecologist will be able to see the polyps present and also any swelling on the endometrial layer.
Another variation of the same procedure involves injecting saline solution into the uterus and then looking at the walls of the uterus through a similar ultrasound transceiver probe. This is called ‘hysterosonography’ or ‘sonohysterography’. The saline solution expands the uterus offering more space to view the interiors of the uterus more easily and clearly.
- Hysteroscopy. Similar to transvaginal ultrasound, hysteroscope (a thin, flexible telescope kind of device) is inserted into the uterus through the vagina and cervix to examine the interiors of the uterus.
- Endometrial biopsy. After locating the polyps in the uterus, just to make sure that they are not cancerous, your doctor may extract a piece of tissue and send it for analysis. If there are any cancerous or precancerous cells present, treatment of those polyps may be different from that of benign (non-cancerous) polyps. Some may think that this test may not be necessary as most of the polyps are benign, but one should note that, uterine cancer tumors (endometrial carcinomas) also appear as polyps.
Treatment for uterine polyps
- If the uterine polyps are small and if you are not suffering from spotting or heavy menstrual bleeding, your doctor may put your treatment on hold and watch for few weeks to monitor the growth. If the polyps are not posing a threat and not growing, treatment may not be necessary. This may happen very rarely in some women.
- Hormone Medication. Agonists for progestins and gonadotropin releasing hormones may be given to reduce the symptoms of the polyps. But this is a short term solution just for the symptoms to subside and not to get rid of the polyps completely. As soon as the medication is stopped, polyps may resume their growth.
- Surgical removal of uterine polyps. This is relatively a simpler procedure and doesn’t involve any incisions to be made in the abdominal area. The hysteroscope that is used to look inside the uterus can also be used to remove the polyps from the uterus. Once removed, the polyps sample will be sent to the lab to look for the presence of any carcinogenic cells.
Do uterine polyps recur after surgical removal?
Yes, uterine polyps can recur but the chances are very minimal.
If you happen to notice that your menstrual periods have become irregular and if you see any spotting between your menstrual cycle or during your perimenopause or after reaching menopause, please make sure you are examined by a good gynecologist near you. With the increasing cases of uterine and cervical cancers, it is always better to be safe than sorry.