A cervix polyp is a small growth that appears on the lining of the cervical canal. Polyps are common in women who have had children, especially so in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Almost all polyps are benign, meaning they are unlikely to turn cancerous or cause serious health problems. An especially large or irritated polyp, however, can lead to abnormal vaginal discharge or heavy bleeding during menstruation. Once a polyp is detected by a gynecologist, the doctor may decide to remove it to prevent the chances of infection.
A polyp usually emerges as a small red or purple protrusion along the cervical lining. It is considered a hyperplastic condition, meaning that otherwise healthy cells in the cervix multiply and grow faster than normal until they form a polyp. Doctors do not fully understand why polyps grow, but research suggests that blood vessel obstructions and inflammation from infections may play a role. The condition is also correlated with abnormally high levels of estrogen in the body.
Most women who have polyps do not have any physical symptoms, and the growths are not found until routine gynecological examinations. It is possible for a cervix polyp to cause heavy bleeding during a woman's period or abnormal spotting after intercourse or douching. If the cervix polyp becomes infected, it can lead to a condition called leukorrhea in which milky white or yellow mucus is discharged from the vagina. An individual who experiences symptoms should schedule an appointment with her gynecologist so she can receive a proper diagnosis.
A gynecologist can see a cervix polyp during a pelvic examination. The doctor may decide to extract a small piece of tissue from the polyp to analyze in a laboratory to make sure the growth is benign. Once tests confirm the polyp is noncancerous, the gynecologist can determine if it should be removed. Polyps that do not cause symptoms are usually left alone, but an especially large growth that causes bleeding can be extracted.
In many cases, a gynecologist can remove a cervix polyp simply by twisting it around. If twisting is ineffective, the doctor usually chooses to tie a string around the polyp's base to cut off blood supply and cut away the growth with a scalpel. After removing the growth, the doctor can suture or cauterize the base to stop bleeding and prevent infection. It is uncommon for a cervix polyp to return after a successful surgery, but a woman who is treated should schedule regular checkups with her gynecologist to maintain her reproductive tract health.