Endometrial polyps are growths that develop in the endometrium (uterine lining). The majority of endometrial polyps are benign (non-cancerous). Symptoms of endometrial polyps include heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding and bleeding between menstrual periods. However, many women with endometrial polyps experience no obvious symptoms at all. For some, the only symptom is infertility! The exact cause of endometrial polyps is unknown, but we do know that the polyps grow in response to estrogen.
Endometrial polyps and infertility
As fertility specialists, we know that approximately 16-26% of women with otherwise-unexplained infertility are found to have endometrial polyps on diagnosis. How do endometrial polyps affect fertility? The answer may be related to mechanical interference with sperm transport, inhibition of embryo implantation, or the production of chemicals that inhibit normal pregnancy, but regardless of the exact mechanism, it is clear that endometrial polyps significantly decrease fertility.
Diagnosis and treatment of endometrial polyps
There are several methods commonly used by fertility specialists in the diagnosis of endometrial polyps. These include:
- Pelvic ultrasound
- HSG (hysterosalpingogram)
In terms of sheer diagnostic accuracy, hysteroscopy is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of endometrial polyps because it allows for direct visualization of the area as well as for surgical treatment to be carried out at the same time. This “see-and-treat” approach blurs the distinction between diagnostic and surgical procedures. The procedure is entirely outpatient and minimally invasive, typically using only conscious sedation and local anesthesia. At SCRC, we perform the procedure in our on-site outpatient surgery center. During hysteroscopy, the surgical instruments required to remove the polyps are passed through the hysteroscope. An instrument called the “Twizzle electrode” cuts through and simultaneously vaporizes the tissue.
Cervical polyps – symptoms and causes
Cervical polyps are small, finger-like growths in the cervix that can sometimes project into the vagina. As with endometrial polyps, many women who have cervical polyps have no symptoms except for infertility. When symptoms are present, they tend to include abnormal vaginal bleeding, which may occur after douching or sexual intercourse, and bleeding in between menstrual periods. The causes of cervical polyps include chronic inflammation, infection, and increased estrogen levels.
Diagnosis and treatment of cervical polyps
Diagnosis of cervical polyps is usually accomplished by a thorough pelvic exam. The treatment of cervical polyps is fairly straightforward. Most polyps can be removed in our office during the pelvic exam using a special type of forceps.
Cervical polyps vs. cervical cancer
You should know that cervical polyps are not the same as cervical cancer. In fact, about 99% of cervical polyps are benign. After the polyp is removed, it is sent to the lab for biopsy to make sure there are no cancerous or precancerous cells.
How do I found out about diagnosis and treatment of polyps?
SCRC will be glad to give you more detailed information about diagnosis and treatment of polyps as well as information about surgical infertility treatment in general