Fibroids and polyps are non-cancerous uterine growths that often cause problems with bleeding, difficulties falling pregnant or recurrent miscarriage.
Although we are using fibroids and polyps together, there is a difference, and that lies in their origins. Fibroids are tumours of uterine muscle tissue, while polyps are tumours of the uterine lining. It is always a worry when we hear a word tumour from our doctor but when it’s a fibroid or polyps a tumour, experts assure there is little to fear.
Uterine fibroids are masses of tissue that can vary in number and size, from one growth to many, ranging from very small to large, and are often seen in women between their 30s and 40s. A family history of fibroids can be a cause but it is not always passed on. Overall these tumours are quite common and are seen in about 70% of all women by the time they reach 50.
Polyps are small growths which look similar to a wart or a skin tag and are found on the uterine lining. They are generally seen in women who have had children and can be rather common. While there is no definitive cause, they are usually brought on by hormone levels and develop in response to oestrogen circulating in the blood. Although they are rarely cancerous, they should be looked at by your gynaecologist.
Bleeding – Both fibroids and polyps can cause heavy bleeding as well as bleeding between periods.
Pain – Fibroids can cause cramping and discomfort where polyps usually cause no pain.
Enlarged Uterus – Polyps are generally too small but fibroids that have grown large can cause a uterus to become bigger than normal.
Treatment for Fibroids and Polyps
Fibroids and polyps are diagnosed on examination and confirmed by ultrasound and hysteroscopy. If they need to be treated they are usually removed surgically, although there are non-surgical treatments too.