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What Are Cervical Polyps?

A woman's gynecologist may choose to remove a cervical polyp in order to prevent infection.
Cervical polyps can be found and removed during pelvic exam.
After removal, growths can be inspected under a microscope.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
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Cervical polyps are benign growths that look like small fingers or globules on stalks located on the cervix. Although polyps themselves are not harmful, because cancerous growths can resemble polyps, it is necessary to remove the growths for biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. Usually these growths are identified by a gynecologist and they can be removed during a routine pelvic exam.

The causes for polyps are not fully understood. They are most likely to develop in women who are menstruating, and women with at least one child are at increased risk. Inflammation or infection of the cervix has been cited as a possible cause, and it is also possible that polyps may form in reaction to exposure to estrogen and other sex hormones. A woman can have a single polyp, or multiple growths, and they can vary in color from white to bright red.

Sometimes there are no symptoms associated with cervical polyps and a patient may not be aware of the growths until she is receiving an exam for unrelated reasons. In other patients, the growths may lead to a smelly discharge, abnormal bleeding, and painful sexual intercourse. The growths will be readily visible on a pelvic exam and a surgical instrument can be used to carefully remove them. Pain management may be provided to make the patient feel more comfortable while the growths are removed from the cervix.

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After removal, the growths can be inspected under a microscope to determine what kinds of cells are involved. True cervical polyps will contain benign cells and no additional treatment or followup is needed. Cancerous growths will have different kinds of cells and treatment may be recommended to remove the rest of the cancer, if any has been left behind. Patients should also be aware that in around one percent of cases, cervical polyps can become cancerous, even though they start out benign.

When a gynecologist identifies tissue changes in or around the cervix and recommends a biopsy, patients can ask for more detail about what kinds of growths are involved and the possible outcomes of a biopsy. Doctors prefer to be safe rather than sorry, and even if growths are probably cervical polyps, a biopsy will be recommended just in case. Patients with a history of cervical changes including abnormal pap smear results or previous incidences of cervical polyps should make sure that their physicians are aware of this history, as this information can be relevant to diagnosis and treatment.

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anon285479
Post 4

I recently returned to my obgyn five months post surgery for cystocele, rectocele, bladder lift etc. I have been on bioidentical hormones for the five months as well and still experiencing very painful intercourse. During the exam, they found a cervical polyp and said that may have contributed to the pain. I was told to use more estrace cream and even rub my bioidentical cream [estrogen/progesterone/testosterone] in my vagina to help increase elasticity.

Am I misguided in worrying about using higher amounts of hormones if that contributes to polyps which can contribute to cancer?

She said I don't need to come back if all goes well in the next three months. Should I get another opinion on everything?

anon240231
Post 3

I just found out that I have a cervical polyp about a week and a half ago. My doctor sent over a referral for me to get checked out and removal at a different facility, but no one has called me back yet. Should I be worried?

John57
Post 2

I always dread going to my female exam and am anxious to just get it over with. I hadn't been experiencing any pain or any abnormal symptoms, so was surprised when my doctor told me I had a cervical polyp.

My pap smears had always been normal so I was surprised by this. She explained to me that they are fairly common and needed to be removed and looked at so she would know for sure it was benign.

myharley
Post 1

I found out I had some cervical polyps at my annual female exam. I had been having some abnormal bleeding for a few months and was waiting for my scheduled exam to talk to my doctor about it.

I did not have any other symptoms of cervical polyps other than the bleeding. I had the polyps removed and the biopsy turned out to be normal.

My doctor told me it was important to have them removed because 5% of them can turn in to cancer. I feel much better about it and haven't had any other problems since.

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