Cervical Polyps: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

What are cervical polyps? How do they look like?

Cervical polyps are small finger-like growths that develop on the mucosal surface of the cervix. The delicate growths suspend from a stalk and protrude through the opening in the cervix.

Cervical polyps may vary slightly in size and shape. Most polyps protrude from the cervix as tear-shaped or lobular growths that could be bright red, purplish-pink, or greyish-white.

Some polyps are attached by a pedicle (a long, thin stalk). They are usually less than 3 cm in diameter but can grow large enough to fill the vagina.

While cervical polyps are typically non-cancerous, malignant polyps can be found in a small percentage of cases, ranging from 0.2% to 1.5%. Malignant polyps are more frequently seen in postmenopausal patients.

What are the causes of cervical polyps?

Although the exact cause of cervical polyps remains unknown, possible causes may include:

  • Congestion of blood vessels in the cervix (disrupted blood flow can cause polyp development).
  • Chronic inflammation of the cervix.
  • Infections in the cervix.
  • Long-term chemical irritation to the cervix causing abnormal cell changes.

What are the risk factors of cervical polyps?

Some risk factors for cervical polyps include:

  • Premenopausal women.
  • Women with two or more pregnancies (multigravida).
  • Sexually transmitted infections.
  • Previous history of cervical polyps.

What are the symptoms of cervical polyps?

Polyps are not always symptomatic. However, when the symptoms are present, they may include the following:

  • Heavy menstrual periods.
  • Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse or douching.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods.
  • Postmenopausal bleeding.
  • White or yellow mucus (leukorrhea).

What are the complications of cervical polyps?

The primary complication arising from polyps is related to infertility, especially when they are large enough to obstruct the external os of the cervix. Additionally, polyps can become inflamed or infected.

How are cervical polyps diagnosed?

As cervical polyps seldom result in symptoms, they are typically detected during a regular pelvic examination and Pap smear.

During the pelvic examination, the doctor may identify the characteristic red or purple finger-like growths on the cervix.

Some cervical polyps may be discovered during transvaginal ultrasound.

How are cervical polyps treated?

If cervical polyps are asymptomatic, they typically do not require any intervention. However, there are exceptions to this. Symptomatic polyps, especially if they are large or have atypical characteristics, usually necessitate removal.

  • Most polyps are removed during the pelvic exam. A polypectomy removes polyps with a gentle twist or tug.
  • Punch biopsy forceps are used for smaller polyps.
  • For larger or polyps with thicker stalks, electrosurgical excision or hysteroscopic removal may be necessary.

In all cases, any polyp that is removed should be sent for further histological examination to rule out the presence of malignancy or precancerous cells.

Cervical polyps may recur in one out of eight women after cervical polyp removal.

Can cervical polyps occur during pregnancy?

Cervical polyps are not common in pregnancy. They are usually small and asymptomatic.

In the early stages of pregnancy, some cervical polyps can be wrongly identified as abnormal vaginal bleeding, potentially leading to a misdiagnosis of an impending miscarriage. Hence, a colour doppler ultrasound is recommended for pregnant women with recurrent unexplained bleeding to exclude endocervical polyps.

In the postpartum period, bleeding can be a significant concern due to the vascular nature of polyps.

Make an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Early detection and proper management are crucial when dealing with cervical polyps. Consult your doctor to know more about cervical polyps.

A dedicated and expert team of obstetricians and gynaecologists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions regarding your reproductive health.

Please contact the Health Screening Centre at your nearest Pantai Hospital for health screening appointments.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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