Uterine Polyps and Cysts
When you visit with your reproductive endocrinologist for fertility treatments, you will probably have to go through a full physical exam. Though this can be uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to help find out the source of your fertility issues. During these exams, health care providers sometimes discover cysts and polyps on the reproductive organs. Though generally harmless, occasionally these cysts and polyps can interfere with fertility.
Polyps are relatively common amongst women between the ages of 20 and 50. Typically they cause no symptoms, although they can occasionally bleed, triggering pain and cramping. Uterine polyps can sometimes also interfere with infertility.
What are Uterine Polyps?
Uterine Polyps, also known as endometrial polyps, are soft, fleshy growths that form on the inside of your uterus. Uterine polyps grow slowly and tend to be small, ranging from one centimeter to five centimeters in length. Uterine polyps can grow flat on the inside lining of your uterus, called the endometrium, or they can grow on long stalks. Sometimes, uterine polyps can project far inside your uterus. Though typically benign, in rare cases polyps can become cancerous.
Causes of Uterine Polyps
Uterine polyps develop from cells which make up your endometrium, the inside lining of your uterus. During your monthly cycle, your endometrial lining begins to build up, in preparation for implantation of an embryo. If no embryo is implanted, this lining sheds in the form of your period. Sometimes however, due to hormone imbalance, this endometrial lining grows too much, causing tiny clumps to form. These clumps are uterine polyps.
Who Gets Uterine Polyps?
Between 10% and 25% of females will develop polyps at some point in their lives. Your risk for developing polyps increases as your grow older, with most women developing them in their 40s. Polyps, however, are rare in women under the age of 20 and above the age of 50.
Symptoms of Uterine Polyps
Uterine polyps rarely cause symptoms, usually because they are so small. However, some symptoms can occur if you have polyps. Uterine polyps symptoms include:
- irregular menstrual bleeding
- spotting between periods
- stomach cramping
Infertility and Uterine Polyps
Uterine polyps are sometimes associated with infertility. Uterine polyps can affect the lining of the uterus. This lining is very important when it comes to embryo implantation. If the lining becomes unhealthy or unstable due to uterine polyps, this can interfere with implantation. It can also increase your chances for miscarriage.
Treatment of Uterine Polyps
Uterine polyps are generally removed because they can cause bleeding and infertility. Surgery is the recommended treatment.
Cervical cysts are very common and are usually considered a normal condition. Typically, these cysts cause no symptoms and do not pose any health risks. However, large cysts can interfere with conception.
What are Cervical Cysts?
Cervical cysts are tiny lumps that form on the surface of your cervix. Your cervix is located at the bottom of your uterus and is about two centimeters long. It acts as an opening that allows sperm to pass through and fertilize your eggs. Sometimes, tiny little pimples filled with mucous can develop on your cervix. These cervical cysts can form on their own or in clusters, and typically grow to be between two and ten millimeters long. They are sometimes referred to as nabothian cysts.
Causes of Cervical Cysts
Researchers aren’t sure why cervical cysts are so common amongst women. Most of the time, cysts seem to form for no apparent reason. However, cervical cysts are also related to a few specific causes.
Cervical cysts have been linked to both pregnancy and menopause. After labor and delivery, tissue in the cervix begins to replenish itself. As this tissue grows, it sometimes covers up the mucous glands of the cervix, trapping mucous inside. This results in the development of a cyst. Menopausal women are also at risk for cervical cysts. As you age, the skin in your vagina and cervix become thinner and thinner. This makes it easier for your body to develop cysts
Women who have cervicitis, an infection of the cervix, are also more prone to developing cervical cysts.
Who Gets Cervical Cysts?
Any woman is at risk for developing cervical cysts. This is why it is important to have a physical and gynecological exam every year. Cervical cysts are more common during your reproductive years, although older women can also get them.
Symptoms of Cervical Cysts
For most people, cervical cysts do not cause any symptoms. However, if your cervical cyst grows to a large size, it can cause some discomfort. Symptoms include:
Infertility and Cervical Cysts
Most cervical cysts are harmless and won’t result in infertility. However, extremely large cysts can cause swelling and inflammation in your cervix. This can make it difficult for sperm to swim to the fallopian tubes. If your cervical cysts are caused by cervicitis, you may also find it difficult to become pregnant.
Treatment for Cervical Cysts
The vast majority of cervical cyst sufferers will recover without treatment in their own time. However, for those with large or symptomatic cysts, it may be a good idea to remove them. Surgery to help remove the cervical cysts can be done at your doctor’s office.