Uterine polyps are growths in the inner lining of the uterus, or endometrium, that attach themselves to endometrial tissue, according to Cleveland Clinic. Polyps are usually benign and range in size from as small as a sesame seed to the size of a golf ball or larger.
The cause of polyps is unknown, but estrogen, which causes the lining of the uterus to thicken each month, appears to be linked to their development. While polyps are not usually cancerous, they can interfere with menstruation or fertility, explains Cleveland Clinic. Polyps are most common in women between the ages of 40 and 50 and post-menopausal women; they are rare in women under the age of 20. Symptoms of uterine polyps include irregular periods; unusually heavy flow; bleeding or spotting between periods or after menopause; and infertility.
Polyps that produce no symptoms do not require treatment. If they interfere with menstruation or pregnancy, polyps may be treated with drugs to help regulate hormone production; with a hysteroscopy, which involves the insertion of surgical instruments through the vagina and cervix into the uterus; or with curretage, which entails scraping the walls of the uterus to remove the polyps. If medication is prescribed, it must be continued to prevent symptoms from returning, notes Cleveland Clinic.