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According to the NIH, approximately 24% of women have uterine polyps wherein. Hence, the closer you are to menopause, get a menopause check up since the odds of having a uterine polyp increase. A polyp can be described as an overgrowth of tissue in the endometrium of the uterus. The concept of uterine polyps symptoms is similar to that of a skin tag which is normal tissue but growing in an abnormal formation.

Several polyps are very small; a few millimeters in diameter and do not represent a compromise to reproductive capabilities. However, large polyps, or rather, multiple polyps can interfere with reproduction by being one of the causes of  infertility, as well as by increasing risks for miscarriage.

Uterine Polyps vs Uterine Fibroids: The Difference

Such terminology can often be confusing for most of us, especially those who are not medical practitioners. Here is the difference between uterine polyps and uterine fibroids:

  • Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can develop within or outside the uterus. Uterine fibroids range in size from so small that they are rather undetectable by the human eye to a size as large as a grapefruit.
  • These uterine fibroids grow slowly, in most cases and they can affect fertility or pregnancy, depending on the size and location. Moreover, once estrogen and progesterone levels begin to wane during menopause, uterine fibroids may begin to shrink.
  • On the other hand, Uterine polyps are formed when the lining of the uterus, which is the endometrial tissue, doesn’t shed as it normally would during menstruation. They are also called endometrial polyps, which are usually non-cancerous, yet there is a small risk that they can become precancerous or cancerous.

Let’s take a look at the difference in the risk factors between Uterine fibroids and Uterine polyps;

Risk factors for uterine fibroids include:

1. Race:

Research indicates that African American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids at an earlier age and that they are more likely to develop multiple and larger fibroids that bring on symptoms with greater severity. While Asian women are less likely to develop fibroids.

2. Genetics:

If anyone in your family, be it your mother or sisters has or had fibroids, you’re more likely to develop them.

3. Obesity:

Overweight women are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids as compared to average-weight women.

4. Diet:

Women with diets that are heavy in red meat and ham are more likely to develop uterine fibroids.

While the risk factors for uterine polyps include:

  • Being peri- or postmenopausal
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Suffering from obesity

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Causes of Uterine Polyps and Symptoms:

Medical science is yet to uncover the exact cause of uterine polyps, but doctors believe estrogen plays a role and as you get closer to menopause, your hormone levels change frequently. The said imbalance causes a swing in your estrogen levels hence, becoming one of the several uterine polyps causes.

Estrogen is the main hormone that causes your uterine lining known as the endometrium to thicken each month. An imbalance may cause an overgrowth of the endometrium, thus creating uterine polyps.

What are the risks associated with Uterine Polyps?

These are the risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:

  • Being perimenopausal or postmenopausal symptoms and phase
  • Having high blood pressure commonly known as hypertension
  • Being obese
  • Consuming tamoxifen, which is drug therapy for breast cancer

Can Uterine Polyps cause infertility or miscarriage?

Uterine polyps might be associated with infertility, which means if you have uterine polyps and you’re unable to have children, removal of the polyps might allow you to become pregnant. However, the data on the same is inconclusive. The presence of polyps in the lining of the uterus might raise your risk for miscarriage.

Can uterine polyps affect pregnancy? Yes. Uterine polyps affect fertility, research on which deals with uterine polyps and pregnancy, uterine and uterine polyp removal surgery.

Polyps are a kind of abnormality that creates a certain inflammatory response in the body, the uterus in particular. It is because uterine polyps present along with irregular periods and abnormal bleeding, that your lining could begin to shed or bleed at the time your embryo is ready to implant. The said inflammation also creates an inhospitable environment for the embryo and hence causes miscarriage.

Doctors diagnose uterine polyps in roughly 25% of all women who have experienced unexplained infertility. In addition to recurrent miscarriages, it is also believed that uterine polyps prevent fertilization by impeding the sperm and egg from coming together. Moreover, any risk of uterine polyp-related infertility or miscarriage depends on the size and number of polyps in the uterus.

How can Uterine Polyps be diagnosed and treated?

It is imperative to have a trusted healthcare provider to undergo diagnosis and treatment for uterine polyps. When you schedule an appointment with your doctor because you suspect infertility, the doctor will ask about your menstrual cycles.

Given that you mention irregular periods and spotting or bleeding between periods, along with difficulty becoming pregnant your physician will perform a gynecological exam and additional tests. Diagnostic tests for uterine polyps may include the following:

1. Transvaginal Ultrasound:

In this method, the doctor inserts an ultrasound transducer into the vagina to study your cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus as well as the entire pelvic area. The ultrasound shows irregularities in these organs and vicinity if any and uterine polyps show up on transvaginal ultrasound.

2. Sonohysterography:

If your doctor suspects uterine abnormalities, they will follow up with a sonohysterography. This procedure is also sometimes referred to as saline infusion sonography. Wherein your doctor inserts a thin tube directly into the uterus and introduces a sterile saline solution to help the uterus expand which gives your doctor a clearer view of the uterus and for growths that may be there.

3. Hysteroscopy Uterine Polyps:

Physicians often use hysteroscopy to diagnose and sometimes for uterine polyps treatment. In hysteroscopy, the doctor inserts a long, thin telescopic device through the vagina and cervix directly into the uterus. Much like an endoscopy or colonoscopy the telescope allows your doctor to see directly into the uterus. Depending on the diagnosis your physician may use the hysteroscope to aid in the surgical removal of the polyps as well.

4. Endometrial Biopsy:

For the procedure endometrial your doctor takes a small sample of the tissue inside of the uterus and the pathology lab examines the tissue for abnormalities.

Treatment Procedures for Removal of Uterine Polyps:

Treatment procedures that have been successfully used for the removal of uterine polyps over the years include:

1. Curettage or D&C:

A D&C is a medical procedure you have to get while you are under anesthesia. This procedure removes the tissue and polyps from the uterine wall and the lab checks the tissue for the presence of cancer cells. While most uterine polyps are typically benign, there lies a rare risk of cancer.  Read more about the procedure with our informative guide: Dilation and Curettage (D & C): All You Need To Know

2. Polypectomy:

Polypectomy is the procedure of removing the polyps from the uterus and it is necessary to treat the abnormal tissues in the uterus before they turn cancerous.

3. Hysterectomy:

Sometimes, when the condition of the polyps becomes severe, the gynaecologist might recommend going for a hysterectomy.  A professional women’s healthcare specialist can help you better understand the procedure and also help clear any queries about the same.

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and a hysterectomy may include removing the organs including the ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes, and other surrounding parts inside the uterus. Laparoscopic hysterectomy is known to be the best and minimally invasive procedure for the removal of the uterus.

This procedure will require only one small incision on the abdomen to remove the uterus with the help of a laparoscope and the patient feels no pain during and after the laparoscopic hysterectomy as it is performed, given after administering general anesthesia to the patient. Moreover, laparoscopic hysterectomy enables faster recovery and the chances of complications are close to zero.

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Removal of uterine polyps means your chances for pregnancy improve greatly. And you can attempt natural conception, intrauterine insemination, or IVF, according to your doctor’s diagnosis and recommendation if you aspire to have children. Uterine polyps can return as well and so a person may undergo treatment more than once. On the rare occasion, your polyps are cancerous your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy and in that case pregnancy via a gestational carrier is possible.

If you have further questions about Uterine Polyps, you can get in touch with us and we’ll help you resolve them.

Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.