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Definition Return to top
Cervical polyps are fingerlike growths on the lower part of the uterus that connects with the vagina (cervix).
Causes Return to top
The cause of cervical polyps is not completely understood. They may occur with:
Cervical polyps are common, especially in women over age 20 who have had children. Polyps are rare in young women who have not started their period (menstruation).
Most women have only one polyp, but some women have two or three.
Symptoms Return to top
Polyps may not cause symptoms.
Exams and Tests Return to top
During a pelvic examination, the health care provider will see smooth, red or purple, fingerlike growths on the cervix. A cervical biopsy will show cells that are mildly abnormal and signs of infection.
Treatment Return to top
The health care provider can remove polyps during a simple, outpatient procedure. Gentle twisting of a cervical polyp may remove it, but normally a polyp is taken out by tying a surgical string around the base and cutting it off. The polyp's base is removed with electrocautery or a laser.
Because many polyps are infected, you may have to take an antibiotic after the removal, even if there are no signs of infection. Although most cervical polyps are not cancerous (benign), the removed tissue should be sent to a laboratory and checked further.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Typically, polyps are not cancerous (benign) and easy to remove. Polyps do not usually grow back.
Possible Complications Return to top
Some cervical cancers may first appear as a polyp. Infections may occur after removal.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment if you have:
Call your health care provider for a Pap smear 3 years after the first time you have intercourse, but no later than age 21.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have not gotten a Pap smear at these time periods:
Prevention Return to top
See your health care provider to treat infections as soon as possible.Update Date: 2/19/2008 Updated by: Peter Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.