Fibroids and Polyps
Most women go to their OB-GYN doctors for common health reasons, including obtaining birth control, undergoing Pap smears, and receiving pregnancy-related care. That said, there are many other issues requiring gynecological care that are not as typical and may not be recognized until an exam is performed at your annual well-woman visit. Treatment for fibroids and/or polyps are among these concerns.
- What are Fibroids?
- What are Polyps?
- Fibroids & Polyps Causes
- Fibroids & Polyps Symptoms
- Types of Fibroids
- Fibroids & Polyps Diagnosis
- Fibroids & Polyps Treatment
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are benign uterine growths that occur mostly during your childbearing years. Your uterus is made of muscle, and fibroids grow from that muscle. They are not cancerous or thought to become cancerous. Fibroids can develop in different parts of your uterus and range in size from a seed to a grapefruit. They are very common and occur in up to 80 percent of women, although not everyone will exhibit symptoms or have knowledge of their fibroids.
What are Uterine Polyps?
Uterine polyps are growths commonly located on the endometrium, or the inner layer of the uterine cavity. Also referred to as endometrial polyps, these outgrowths are small, soft, and usually non-cancerous. While they are most often benign, polyps can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bleeding and spotting. Uterine polyps most frequently occur in patients who are over 20 years old and the risk of developing a polyp can increase with age. The likelihood of a polyp forming generally peaks after menopause.
What Causes Fibroids and Polyps?
We do not know the cause of fibroids. We understand that they can respond to female reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. You may also have a higher chance of getting fibroids if they run in your family.
The cause for polyps is also unknown, although they are thought to develop when there is excess tissue in the uterine lining. Like fibroids in the uterus, fluctuating hormone and estrogen levels may be a factor in the formation of a uterine polyp.
What are Symptoms of Fibroids and Polyps in the Uterus?
Fibroids are most symptomatic if they are large in size, if you have a lot of them, or if they are located in a specific place on your uterus. Common symptoms include heavy or prolonged periods, bleeding in between periods, or pelvic pain and pressure.
The most common symptom in patients who have a uterine polyp is heavy or prolonged periods, which is also known as menorrhagia. In general, menorrhagia is reported in about 50 percent of symptomatic patients. Other symptoms of a polyp may include spotting between periods, bleeding after menopause, or irregular periods.
Types Of Fibroids
You can have one of three types of fibroids, depending on where they are located in the uterus:
- Intramural fibroids: Develop within the wall of your uterus
- Subserosal fibroids: Grow on the outer surface of your uterus and sometimes stick out, in which case they are called “pedunculated”
- Submucosal: Occur closest to the inner lining of your uterus and can cause the most irregular bleeding
How are Fibroids and Polyps Diagnosed?
Fibroids are best detected on a pelvic ultrasound. Most people will need a transvaginal ultrasound, in which a sonogram probe is placed inside the vagina in order to obtain the best image of a patient’s uterus. Polyps can also be observed on a pelvic ultrasound, as well as through a hysteroscopy (use of a tiny telescope to examine the uterine lining), Pap smear, or dilation and curettage—which involves obtaining a tissue sample by scraping the walls of the uterus.
What is the Best Treatment For Uterine Fibroids and Polyps?
There are both non-surgical and surgical treatments for fibroids. We may offer various hormonal treatments to try and stop the growth or shrink your fibroids. These treatments are mostly to prevent or reduce your symptoms. We are also able to offer surgical options for our patients, which include uterine artery embolization, a myomectomy, or a hysterectomy. These procedures involve trying to occlude the blood supply to your fibroids, removing your fibroids, or removing your uterus altogether, respectively.
In treating polyps, small or asymptomatic polyps usually do not require treatment. For patients experiencing heavy bleeding or spotting, medications may help to shrink polyps and/or reduce uncomfortable symptoms. If a polyp warrants removal, our team can perform dilation and curettage and/or a minimally invasive hysteroscopy procedure to extract multiple polyps.
If you think you may have fibroids or polyps, please call Physicians Health Institute For Women to make an appointment. We can diagnose your symptoms and help you navigate through all of your treatment options while answering any questions along the way.