Overview

Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that expand into the uterus. Uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps, form as a result of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) overgrowing. These polyps are usually noncancerous (benign), although some can be cancerous or can turn into cancer (precancerous polyps).

Uterine polyps range in size from a few millimeters — no larger than a sesame seed — to several centimeters — golf-ball-size or larger. They attach to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk.

There can be one or many uterine polyps. They usually stay within the uterus, but they can slip through the opening of the uterus (cervix) into the vagina. Uterine polyps are most common in people who are going through or have completed menopause. But younger people can get them, too.

Uterine polyps

Uterine polyps

Uterine polyps attach to the uterus by a large base or a thin stalk. They can grow to be several centimeters in size. Uterine polyps can cause irregular menstrual bleeding, bleeding after menopause, very heavy menstrual flow or bleeding between periods.


Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of uterine polyps include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Frequent, unpredictable periods whose lengths and heaviness vary.
  • Very heavy periods.
  • Infertility.

Some people have only light bleeding or spotting; others are symptom-free.


When to see a doctor

Seek medical care if you have:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding.

Causes

Hormonal factors appear to play a role. Uterine polyps are estrogen-sensitive, meaning they grow in response to estrogen in the body.


Risk factors

Risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:

  • Being perimenopausal or postmenopausal.
  • Being obese.
  • Taking tamoxifen, a drug therapy for breast cancer.
  • Taking hormone therapy for menopause symptoms.

Complications

Uterine polyps might be associated with infertility. If you have uterine polyps and you're unable to have children, removal of the polyps might allow you to become pregnant, but the data are inconclusive.


Nov 15, 2022

  1. Stewart EA. Endometrial polyps. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed July 18, 2022.
  2. Nijkang NP, et al. Endometrial polyps: Pathogenesis, sequelae and treatment. Sage Open Medicine. 2019; doi:10.1177/2050312119848247.
  3. Committee opinion: The use of hysteroscopy for the diagnosis and treatment of intrauterine pathology. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2020. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/03/the-use-of-hysteroscopy-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-intrauterine-pathology. Accessed July 18, 2022.
  4. DeCherney AH, et al., eds. Benign disorders of the uterine corpus. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Obstetrics & Gynecology. 12th ed. McGraw Hill; 2019. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed July 18, 2022.
  5. Heavy menstrual bleeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html. Accessed July 18, 2022.

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