Endometrial Polyp: A Closer Look into It

By: James Pendergraft

Endometrial polyps are also called uterine polyps. These are small growths that grow very slowly in the lining of the uterus. They have a large flat base and they are attached to the uterus through an elongated pedicle. They can be round or oval in shape and they are usually red in color. Large ones appear to be a darker shade of red. A woman can have one or many endometrial polyps, and they sometimes protrude through the vagina causing cramps and discomfort. They can cause cramps because they impinge the opening of the cervix. These polyps can become infected if they are twisted and lose all their blood supply. There are rare instances when these polyps become cancerous. Women who have them find it difficult at times to get pregnant.

The Symptoms

There are no definitive causes of endometrial polyps, but their growth can be affected by hormone levels, especially estrogen. Often there are no symptoms, but some identifiable symptoms can be related to its formation.

* A gap between menstrual bleeding

* Irregular or prolonged menstrual bleeding

* Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding

* Pain or dysmenorrhea (pain with menses)

Diagnosis and Treatment

Endometrial polyps can be detected through Dilation and Curettage (D&C), CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or hysteroscopy. Hysteroscopy is a procedure where a small scope is inserted through the cervix into the uterine cavity to look for polyps or other uterine abnormalities. Endometrial polyps can be removed and treated through surgery using curettage or hysterectomy. If curettage is performed, polyps may be missed but to reduce this risk, the uterus is usually explored by hysteroscopy at the beginning of the surgical process. A large polyp can be cut into sections before being fully removed. If the polyps are discovered to be cancerous, a hysterectomy should be performed. There is a high probability of recurrence of polyps even with the above treatments.

Complications and Risk Factors

Endometrial polyps are usually benign cells. They can either be precancerous or cancerous. Approximately 0.5 percent of endometrial polyps contain adenocarcinoma cells. These cells will eventually develop into a cancer. Polyps can increase the risk of miscarriage in women who undergo in vitro fertilization treatment. If they develop near the fallopian tubes, they can be a cause of having difficulty in becoming pregnant.

Uterine polyps usually occur in women in their 40s and 50s. Women who have high risk factors are those who are obese, have high blood pressure. and have history of cervical polyps in their family.

Taking in tamoxifen or hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk factors of endometrial polyps. Women who use the hormonal Intra Uterine Device that has high levels of levonorgestrel can reduce the incidence of polyps. One of every ten women can have endometrial polyps, and it is estimated that about 25 percent of those who have abnormal vaginal bleeding have endometrial polyps.

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