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Uterine Polyps

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s experienced gynecologists offer the latest diagnostic and treatment methods for women with reproductive conditions such as uterine polyps, which can affect fertility. Our women’s health teams work together to provide highly effective, compassionate care.

Specialized Care for Uterine Polyps

Uterine polyps develop when the lining of the uterus, or endometrium, overgrows in a particular area. Uterine, or endometrial, polyps grow from the uterus wall into the cavity and can be as small as a sesame seed or larger than a golf ball. Most uterine polyps are benign (noncancerous) but, in rare cases, can be or become malignant (cancerous).

Uterine polyps have some symptoms in common with uterine fibroids, but the two types of growths differ in several ways:

  • Polyps are growths of the uterine lining; fibroids are growths of muscle tissue.
  • Polyps are typically smaller than fibroids and often go away without treatment. Fibroids can shrink after menopause but do not go away.
  • Polyps can lead to cancer and subfertility.

UT Southwestern’s skilled gynecologists have specialized training and expertise in diagnosing and treating uterine polyps. We offer advanced treatment based on the latest research to relieve symptoms and prevent serious complications such as cancer or infertility.

Causes and Risk Factors of Uterine Polyps

Although the exact causes of uterine polyps are unknown, the hormone estrogen might play a role in promoting their growth.

Factors that can increase the risk of developing uterine polyps include:

  • Having high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Being obese
  • Taking tamoxifen, a medication for breast cancer
  • Being perimenopausal or postmenopausal

Symptoms of Uterine Polyps

Some women with polyps experience no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Longer or heavy periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Subfertility or infertility

Diagnosing Uterine Polyps

At UT Southwestern, our gynecologists have extensive experience in evaluating symptoms to diagnose uterine polyps and rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. We begin with a thorough evaluation that includes a:

  • Discussion of symptoms
  • Review of personal and family medical history
  • Physical exam that includes a pelvic exam

To confirm a diagnosis, we might recommend one or more additional tests, such as:

  • Hysteroscopy: Procedure in which the doctor inserts a narrow, lighted camera through the cervix into the uterus to examine its interior walls; sometimes this must be done in the operating room, but frequently, in appropriate patients, we can do this in the office
  • Endometrial biopsy: Removal of a small tissue sample from the endometrium to examine under a microscope for signs of cancer
  • Ultrasound: Imaging that uses sound waves to produce images inside the pelvic region to check for abnormal growths
  • Hysterosonography: Also called a saline infusion sonogram, an ultrasound procedure that injects sterile saline into the uterus to expand it, making it easier to see inside the uterus

Treatment for Uterine Polyps

Based on the evaluation, our gynecologists develop a treatment plan customized to each patient’s individual needs. Treatment options include:

  • Watchful waiting: Small polyps that don’t produce symptoms might go away without treatment. We can monitor patients at their annual exams to check for any changes.
  • Hormonal medications: These medications can relieve symptoms while patients are taking them, but symptoms usually come back if patients stop the medications.
  • Minimally invasive procedure: In addition to its diagnostic uses, a hysteroscopy can also remove uterine polyps in patients who are at risk of uterine cancer.

Additional treatment

  • If the endometrial biopsy shows cancerous cells, we coordinate our patients’ care with oncologists who specialize in gynecologic cancer.
  • For women who are having difficulty achieving successful pregnancy, our specialists in fertility and reproductive medicine offer a wide range of treatments.

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