A doctor discusses cervical polyps

What Are Cervical Polyps?

The cervix is connect the uterus and vagina. Polyps that form there are small tumors that, while usually noncancerous, can cause issues. They come in different colors and may mimic the appearance of some types of cancer.  They usually appear one at a time, but groups of a few may also pop up. The exact cause of cervical polyps is still unknown, but experts suspect it has to do with blood vessels, an abnormal reaction to estrogen, or cervical inflammation. 

Cervical polyps rarely occur in women who have yet to menstruate. Premenopausal women who have given birth are most likely to develop them. Although polyps may be asymptomatic, they can cause vaginal bleeding, heavy periods, or an abnormal discharge of mucus.

Cervical polyps can be seen from a pelvic exam (such as that performed during an annual pap smear) and nearly always need to be removed, just to be safe. Small ones may be twisted off, while larger ones may require electrocauterization—a technique where heat is used to remove the polyp and stop most of the bleeding. A biopsy can show whether they are cancerous or not. After removal, polyps seldom return—although new ones may appear instead. 

Last Updated: April 07, 2016

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