Polyps are benign submucosal growths that are attached to stalks. They can occur in the uterus (womb) and the cervix (neck of the womb). Polyps grow in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). They are covered with the same tissue and look like little toadstools. While women with polys often experience no symptoms, when they grow in size they can start bleeding.
Women are at increased risk of polyps in the uterus if they are aged between 40 and 50, are peri-menopausal, overweight, take tamoxifen (medication for breast cancer), have high blood pressure, or have polyps in the cervix.
The cause of cervical polyps is not entirely understood. Hormonal factors play an important role. Polyps are exceptionally sensitive to the hormone oestrogen, and they react to oestrogen the same way the endometrium does. When oestrogen levels rise, the endometrium grows and so do polyps. They also may be the result of an infection, long-term (chronic) inflammation or congestion of blood vessels.
Polyps in the uterus do not always have symptoms, but when they do these can include:
- Irregular periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding after the menopause
- Heavy bleeding
Do you suspect you have polyps? Then contact your GP. Read about how to get the most out of your GP appointment here.