Cervical Polyps

Topic Overview

What are cervical polyps?

Cervical polyps are smooth, red, finger-shaped growths in the passage extending from the uterus to the vagina (cervical canal).

What causes cervical polyps?

The cause of cervical polyps is not entirely understood. They may result from infection. They can also result from long-term (chronic) inflammation, an abnormal response to an increase in estrogen levels, or congestion of blood vessels in the cervical canal.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom a woman will notice is abnormal vaginal bleeding that occurs:

  • Between menstrual periods.
  • After menopause.
  • After sexual intercourse.
  • After douching.

Cervical polyps may be inflamed and rarely can become infected, causing vaginal discharge of yellow or white mucus. Polyps often occur without symptoms.

How are they treated?

The most common treatment is removal of the polyp during a pelvic exam. This can be done simply by gently twisting the polyp, tying it tightly at the base, or removing it with special forceps. A solution is applied to the base of the polyp to stop any bleeding.

Polyps do not need to be removed unless they bleed, are very large, or have an unusual appearance.

Should cervical polyps be tested?

Almost all cervical polyps are noncancerous (benign), but all polyps should be evaluated.

Who is affected by cervical polyps?

Cervical polyps most often occur in women older than 20 who have had several pregnancies. Most cervical polyps are first discovered during a routine pelvic exam. Usually only a single polyp develops, though sometimes two or three are found during an exam.

Related Information

Credits

Author Sandy Jocoy, RN
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kevin Holcomb, MD - Gynecologic Oncology
Last Updated January 5, 2009

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