It’s normal to feel alarmed after discovering that you have uterine polyps, but it should bring you some comfort to know that most polyps are harmless. They’re sometimes found when you get an ultrasound for something else.
Board-certified gynecologist Lillian Schapiro, MD, FACOG, and our women’s health team here at Ideal Gynecology are here to provide you with the knowledge and guidance you need to make informed decisions about your health. If you have polyps, Dr. Schapiro will discuss your symptoms and perform any relevant testing. Not all polyps require treatment. However, if you’re having symptoms or have been trying to get pregnant without success, discuss it with Dr. Schapiro.
What are uterine polyps?
Uterine polyps are growths that arise in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). They’re also known as endometrial polyps. Their size can range from a few millimeters (the size of a sesame seed) to a few centimeters (the size of a golf ball), or even larger, and it's possible to have one or multiple polyps. Although uterine polyps are normally harmless, they can cause issues with your period and can interfere with your ability to get pregnant.
Who gets uterine polyps?
Any woman can develop polyps, but women between the ages of 40-50 are more likely than younger women to have polyps. Uterine polyps can also develop after menopause. It’s rare for a woman under the age of 20 to develop uterine polyps. Being overweight or having high blood pressure raises the risk of developing polyps.
What causes uterine polyps?
The exact cause of uterine polyps are unknown; however, hormone levels and tissue expansion of the endometrium appear to influence the development of polyps.
The risk of polyps rises with age and peaks in your 50s, before gradually decreasing after menopause. Because obesity raises estrogen levels in the blood, it also raises the risk of uterine polyps. Certain medication is also linked to the development of endometrial polyps.
How do polyps affect my health?
Many women have polyps and are unaware of it. If polyps are affecting your health, you may experience:
- Irregular periods
- Heavy periods
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Spotting or bleeding after menopause
Irregular periods are the most common sign of polyps. The average woman's period lasts four to seven days and menstruation normally lasts 28 days; however, menstrual cycles can last anywhere from 21-35 days. If your period is irregular, painful, or heavy, bring it up to Dr. Schapiro.
In rare instances, uterine polyps are precancerous or cancerous, but this is rare. Mostly, polyps mess with your period and fertility when there are several of them or when they’re large. Dr. Schapiro will review imaging studies with you and discuss the size and number of your polyps.
How are polyps treated?
If you have polyps that are causing symptoms or interfering with fertility, Dr. Schapiro can perform a polypectomy, which is a procedure that involves removing polyps. Hysteroscopy, in which a small camera is placed into the uterus for visibility, is the most successful approach.
A polypectomy is normally done under anesthesia in the operating room. Removing polyps can increase your chances of conceiving. If your polyps are small and aren’t causing you any problems, we can monitor them. After removal of bothersome polyps, most women notice improvement in or resolution of their symptoms.
It’s important to know that you may develop new polyps after removal. Some women are prone to developing polyps. To prevent recurrence, Dr. Schapiro may recommend an oral progestin or a progestin-releasing intrauterine device (Mirena®).
If you have risk factors like obesity, losing weight can help reduce the chances of your polyps returning. Women who have finished having children can also opt for endometrial ablation, which is a procedure that removes the uterine lining. Endometrial ablation is quite effective at relieving symptoms related to uterine polyps.
We’re here to answer all your questions and concerns about uterine polyps. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schapiro to discuss treatment options. To get started, call our Atlanta, Georgia office to speak with one of our knowledgeable and helpful team members about scheduling a visit with Dr. Schapiro.