Fibroids and Polyps: And, Everything You Should Know about Them

One of the most common health concerns of women is Fibroids and Polyps. Surprisingly, most women develop either of them at some point their life or the related health issues. Research shows that typically seventy to eighty percent of women will develop them by the age of fifty. So, it is significant to understand the underlying meaning, symptoms and treatment roadmap of this feminine health disorder.

What are fibroids and polyps?

Fibroids and polyps are the collection of tissues that outgrow in a woman’s uterus or ovaries. Polyps are actually small finger-like overgrowths with endometrial tissue on the cervix that can easily be removed. However, fibroids are masses of muscular tissue normally embedded in the uterine wall muscles. They are bigger and vary in type and size.  Fibroids originate in the uterine muscle and then grow into the uterine cavity, within the wall. Subsequently, they grow towards the uterus.

Usually both polyps and fibroids are non-cancerous but malignancy may be reported in some cases. Infertility issues, recurring miscarriages and causes of heavy periods may be attributed to their presence in the body.

Symptoms of Occurrence of Polyps and Fibroids

Many women never experience any signs of the existence of fibroids or polyps in their body. However, if symptoms do occur, it could be characterised as –

Ovarian Polyp Symptoms

  • Pain or pressure in pelvic area
  • Normally it does not affect menstrual bleeding

Signs of Uterine Polyps

  • Irregularity in menstrual flow with bleeding at unpredictable intervals
  • Occurrences of bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Abnormal heavy menstrual periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Post-Menopausal symptoms of vaginal bleeding

 Signs of Uterine Fibroids

  • Heavy menstrual flow and/or long menstrual durations(exceeding a week or more)
  • Pressure or pain in pelvic region
  • Higher frequency of urination
  • Difficulties in completely emptying urine from the bladder
  • Constipation issues
  • Pain in the legs or lower back

Diagnosis of Polyps and Fibroids

Both polyps and fibroids are often discovered during a pelvic exam. In the context of polyps, other diagnostic tests include sonohysterogram, hysterosalpingogram or hysteroscopy. For confirming the existence of fibroids, you may have to undergo a trans-vaginal or pelvic ultrasound scan, an MRI, or an endometrial biopsy, as suggested by the gynaecologist.

 Polyps and fibroids treatment

There is no treatment required for smaller polyps that do not pose problems. But patients with polyps should be assessed every six months to check for any further progression.

However, if polyps or fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding, infertility issues or are preceded by history of miscarriage, then fibroid/polyp removal may be considered.

Polyps may be removed by hysteroscopy wherein a long, thin telescope-like device with a video camera and light (hysteroscope) is inserted through the vagina and cervical opening.  The polyp is then held and cut with a small pair of scissors. Larger polyps require surgical removal under general anaesthesia.

Fibroids may be treated by Hormone therapy or Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE). But this impacts fertility and is not recommended for women planning to get pregnant. Surgical removal options for fibroids include

  • Hysterectomy in which the complete uterus is removed.
  • Myomectomy which is a procedure that preserves the uterus but removes fibroids growing in the uterine cavity. It can be done in multiple ways depending on type, size and location of fibroids.
    • Laparoscopic Myomectomy – Here the fibroid is removed using key-hole surgery and the uterus is closed with laparoscopic sutures.
    • Open Multiple Myomectomy – This is used for removal of multiple fibroids and is followed by reconstruction of the uterus.