The cervix is a canal-like structure that is found below the uterus and extends to the vagina. Fragile structures, also called polyps, tend to grow in this area and this condition is most common in women who are between 40- 50 and have had more than one child .
What is Cervical Polyps?
Cervical polyps are small and elongated tumors that develop in the cervix. These growth looks like bulbs on a stem and are usually cherry-red to grayish-white or reddish purple. Polyps may vary in size but most of them are about 1 or 2 centimeters long. Most of these growths are usually benign but because there are rare types of cancers that may look like polyps so all polyps should be removed and be tested for any possible signs of cancer. Figure 1 shows a diagram of a cervical polyp [1, 2].
This condition occurs in around 4% of the women who are in their reproductive age. Cervical polyps almost never occur to women who haven’t had their first menstrual period. The development of polyps is also found to be common in pregnant women due to the increased level of estrogen .
Types of Cervical Polyps
There are two distinct types of cervical polyps:
- Ectocervical polyps can form on the cells of the outer surface layer of the cervix. This type of polyps are more commonly found in women who are in their postmenopausal age .
- Endocervical polyps develop inside the canal of the cervix. These polyps are usually found in women in their premenopausal age .
The ICD-10-CM diagnosis code used for cervical polyps is N84.1. This code applies for both types of cervical polyps .
Causes of Cervical Polyps
The exact cause of cervical polyps are not fully understood but their development is associated to the following events [1, 2, 4]:
Increased levels of estrogen
There are certain life events in a woman’s life where the estrogen levels fluctuate. These hormones can be up to 100 times the normal level when a woman is pregnant. The level of estrogen may also increase due to some events in the environment. Chemicals that mimics estrogen are used in commercially prepared meats and dairy products and consumption of these foods will increase estrogen in the body [1, 5].
Chronic inflammation of the cervix
When a cervix is inflamed, it appears irritated, reddish or appear eroded. Bacterial infections, herpes, yeast infections and hormonal changes may cause inflammation in the cervical area .
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
A HPV infection is a known cause of cervical cancer. Women who are diagnosed with this condition should have regular check-ups with their gynecologists to check for cervical polyp growth .
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Polyps
Cervical polyps may not produce any signs or symptoms but individuals with cervical polyps may experience [1, 2, 4]:
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse or in-between periods
- Abnormally heavy menstrual period
- Leucorrhea or vaginal discharge of yellow or white mucus
Diagnosis of Cervical Polyps
Cervical polyps are usually found during a routine pelvic examination. The physician will be to see finger-like growths that protrude out from the cervix. A colposcope may be used in the pelvic examination [1, 6].
Once cervical polyps are identified by the physician, a tissue sample of the polyp will be obtained and sent to a laboratory for a biopsy. Most of the time, the result of this test will show the polyp cells to be benign but in rare cases, these may be precancerous patterns of growth [1, 2].
Treatment of Cervical Polyps
The recommended method of treatment is the removal of cervical polyps. This procedure is very simple and can be performed in the doctor’s office. If these polyps are small enough, there may be no need to some pain medications. The polyps can be removed either by twisting the polyp from its base, using a surgical string by tying it around the base of the polyp and cutting it away or through the use of a ring forceps [1, 4, 6].
There may be a brief feeling of mild pain during the removal process and there may be mild to moderate cramps after the procedure. Nonprescription pain medications may be advised by the physician to help in relieving the pain and cramping. Antibiotics may also be given if the polyps will present any signs of infection. After the removal procedure, women will be advised to wear cotton underwear and to avoid excessive moisture and heat to prevent infection in the site where the polyps are detached. Once removed, polyps do not usually grow back but women who had polyps in the past is at a great risk of developing more polyps. [1, 2, 4, 5].
Prevention of cervical polyps may not be 100% guaranteed but this can avoid any complications. Undergoing periodic pelvic examinations will be able to detect the polyp in its early stage. The longer the polyp stays in the cervix, the possibility of it developing a complication also increases. It is essential to provide the required treatment to the polyp as early as possible .
- (2015). Polyp of Cervix. Retrieved from Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/cervical-polyps#Overview1
- Cervical Polyps. Retrieved from Drugs.com: http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/cervical-polyps.html
- (2015). Polyp of cervix uteri. Retrieved from ICD10Data: http://www.icd10data.com/ICD10CM/Codes/N00-N99/N80-N98/N84-/N84.1
- Storck, S. (2014, February 24). Cervical Polyps. Retrieved from MedlinePlus: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001494.htm
- What is Cervical Polyp: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Retrieved from Docdoc.com: https://www.docdoc.com/info/condition/cervical-polyp
- Healthgrade Editorial Staff. (2013, August 9). Cervical Polyps. Retrieved from Healthgrade: http://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/womens-health/cervical-polyps–treatments