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Polyps of the Cervix

By S. Gene McNeeley, MD, Clinical Professor; Chief of Gynecology, Center for Advanced Gynecology and Pelvic Health, Michigan State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine; Trinity Health

Cervical polyps are common fingerlike growths of tissue that protrude into the passageway through the cervix. Polyps are almost always benign (noncancerous).

  • Cervical polyps may be caused by chronic inflammation or infection.

  • Usually, cervical polyps do not cause any symptoms, but they may cause bleeding or a puslike discharge.

  • Doctors can usually diagnose cervical polyps during a pelvic examination.

  • Polyps that cause bleeding or a discharge are removed during the pelvic examination.

About 2 to 5% of women have cervical polyps. They may be caused by chronic inflammation or infection.

Symptoms

Most cervical polyps do not cause any symptoms. Some polyps bleed between menstrual periods or after intercourse. Some become infected, causing a puslike discharge from the vagina. Polyps are usually reddish pink and less than 1/2 inch (about 1 centimeter) in diameter.

Diagnosis

  • A pelvic examination

Doctors can detect polyps when they do a pelvic examination.

Treatment

  • Removal of polyps

Polyps that cause bleeding or a discharge are removed during the pelvic examination in the doctor’s office. No anesthetic is needed. Rarely, bleeding occurs after polyps are removed. If it does, a caustic substance, such as silver nitrate, is applied to the affected area with a swab to stop the bleeding.

A Papanicolaou (Pap) test or a variation of it (cervical cytology) is done to check for cancer of the cervix.

If symptoms (bleeding and a discharge) persist after polyps are removed, a sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is taken and examined under a microscope (endometrial biopsy) to exclude endometrial cancer.