What Are Cervical Polyps?
Polyps can be defined as abnormal tissue growths, which look like small bumps. Majority of the polyps do not exceed more than half-an-inch in width, although some may be wider, but such instances are extremely rare. The most common location for a polyp is the colon although they also occur in the ear canal and the cervix of a female. When there is development of these polyps in the cervix then it is termed as Cervical Polyps.
The cervix can be defined as a narrow canal, which is present at the bottom of the uterus and extends all the way to the vagina. It connects the uterine cavity to the vagina. This is also the passage that the sperm takes in order to fertilize an egg resulting in pregnancy. It also allows the baby to pass through the birth canal smoothly during delivery when it becomes thin and wide.
Cervical Polyps are usually present either on the surface of the cervix or inside the cervical canal. Normally, there is a solitary polyp in the cervix although at times there may be more than one, but it never exceeds beyond three.
Cervical Polyps are most common in females who are in their 40s and have more than one child. They never occur in girls who have not attained puberty and are extremely rare in young females. An increase in the estrogen level in females is believed to be one of the leading causes of it. They are mostly benign tumors and can be easily treated as an outpatient, although in some rare cases an inpatient stay in the hospital may be required for removal of them.
What Causes Cervical Polyps?
As of now, the exact cause as to why Cervical Polyps develop is not clearly understood, but studies suggest that their formation may be linked to:
- Increased levels of estrogen.
- Cervical inflammation.
- Blood vessels being clogged.
High Estrogen Levels: The estrogen levels in a female tend to fluctuate throughout the life of a female. These levels tend to be at their highest during the reproductive years of a female, when the female is pregnant, and during the few months just before menopause.
Estrogen can also be increased in the body through certain environmental factors as well where commercially produced meat products contain high levels of estrogen. Certain dairy products also contain high levels of estrogen, which may increase the estrogen levels in the body causing Cervical Polyps.
Cervical Inflammation: This is yet another cause believed to be related to Cervical Polyps. When the cervix gets inflamed it becomes erythematous and irritated. This usually happens as a result of a bacterial infection, herpes or yeast infections, pregnancy or as a result of having had a miscarriage. Abortions also lead to inflammation of the cervix. Certain hormonal changes also result in inflammation of the cervix with resultant Cervical Polyps or Polyps of the Cervix.
What Are The Symptoms of Cervical Polyps?
Normally, Cervical Polyps do not cause any symptoms, although in some cases there may be a whitish vaginal discharge or abnormally heavy menstrual periods. There may also be spotting present as a result of it. This will be usually present after a sexual intercourse or between menstrual periods. The spotting may also be present after the female has reached menopause.
How are Cervical Polyps Diagnosed?
It is very easy for a gynecologist to diagnose Cervical Polyps by just a routine pelvic examination. The doctor will be able to visualize smooth projections within the cervix, which will be red or purple in color.
They may be present either on the surface of the cervix or within the cervical canal. The polyps present on the surface of the cervix are called as ectocervical polyps whereas those present within the cervical canal are called as endocervical polyps. The latter is the most common type of cervical polyps.
Ectocervical polyps are mostly seen in postmenopausal females whereas endocervical polyps are seen mostly in premenopausal females. A biopsy of the polyp may be done to rule out any malignancy and confirm the diagnosis of Cervical Polyps or Polyps of the Cervix.
What is the Treatment for Cervical Polyps?
Cervical Polyps is a common condition and the treatment of it is quite easy and in majority of the cases, these polyps are removed as an outpatient. In some cases, the polyps may themselves break away from the cervix either during menstruation or during sexual intercourse.
In such instances no treatment is required. Observation is the first thing that gynecologist begins with when treating cases of Cervical Polyps as long as they are not causing any symptoms. In cases where the patient experiences symptoms then the polyps are removed by a simple procedure called polypectomy. This can be done as an outpatient in the doctor’s office itself and does not require any hospitalization.
There are several ways of removing a Cervical Polyps. This can be done by twisting the polyp at its base and removing it. It can also be done by tying a string around the base of the polyp and cutting it. The gynecologist may also use ring forceps to remove the polyps.
In some cases, liquid nitrogen may be used for completely destroying the polyp. Electrocautery ablation is yet another method for eliminating the Cervical Polyps completely. Laser surgery is the most novel method of getting rid of Cervical Polyps. The patient may feel some pain for a couple of hours after the procedure that then fades away on its own. There may also be some spotting and cramps which get better within an hour or two after the procedure for removal of Cervical Polyps.
In rare cases, if the polyps are too large to be removed in an outpatient setting then the patient may have to be admitted as an inpatient for surgical removal of Cervical Polyps or Polyps of the Cervix.
The recurrence rate for Cervical Polyps is minimal meaning that once the polyps are removed there is very little chance of recurrence of Polyps of the Cervix.