You are here
Fibroids & Polyps Overview
Fibroids and polyps are benign (non-cancerous) uterine growths —tissue enlargement in a woman's uterus. While they may be benign, they can also cause problems such as infertility or recurrent miscarriage.
Fibroids are masses of tissue that start from the uterine muscle and then grow into the cavity, within the wall, and push outward toward the uterus.
There are four kinds of fibroids:
- Intramural fibroids are the most common and grow inside the wall of the uterus.
- Subserol fibroids grow outside the uterine cavity.
- Submucous (submucosal or intracavitary) fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity.
- Pedunculated fibroids grow on a stalk and develop either in the uterus or outside the uterus
Health care providers may call fibroids: tumors, leiomyomas or myomas. These masses are not cancerous and do not require treatment unless they are causing problems, such as pelvic pain, bleeding or heavy or uncomfortable menstrual periods.
The fibroid that grows inside the uterine cavity (intracavitary) is much less common than other types. Any type of fibroid can impact reproductive function and may cause infertility or miscarriage.
It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 women of childbearing age have uterine fibroids. They are most often found in women over age 30, are rarely seen in women under 20 and are more common in African-Americans than Caucasians.
Although it is not known what causes uterine fibroids, they seem to require the hormone estrogen to grow. A fibroid will probably continue to slowly grow as long as the female is menstruating. At the onset of menopause, when hormone levels drop, fibroids are likely to shrink or disappear.
Curious to see the effect Fibroids are having on your fertility, read Are Fibroids Contributing to Your Infertility? to find out more information.
Cervical polyps are small, fingerlike growths, similar to a wart or skin tag, that are found on the cervix. They are common and are most often found in women over age 20 who have had children. Young women who have not yet started menstruating rarely have polyps.
A woman can have one or several polyps. Although they are usually not cancerous, all polyps should be evaluated by a an Ob/Gyn or fertility doctor. Polyps are easy to remove and do not usually grow back.
The cause of cervical polyps is not clearly understood. They might develop from an infection, chronic (long-term) inflammation, or an obstruction or any alteration in blood vessels in the cervical canal. Researchers believe polyps may also be an abnormal response to an increase in estrogen levels.
Many polyps do not interfere with the ability to get pregnant. However, large or multiple polyps can sometimes cause problems with fertility or result in recurrent miscarriage.
If you're experiencing recurrent miscarriages or suspect an infertility condition, you should consider consulting with a fertility specialist. To find a specialist near you, type in your zip code in the “Find a Doctor” or “Find a Clinic” search on our website.