Uterine Polyps vs. Fibroids

Polyps and fibroids can share many of the same symptoms and can be confused for one another. Read inside to learn more about what factors distinguish the two growths.

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, on the one hand, are masses of tissue that start in the uterine muscle and then grow into the cavity, within the wall, and push outward toward the uterus.

There are four kinds of fibroids:

  1. Intramural fibroids are the most common and grow inside the wall of the uterus.
  2. Subserol fibroids grow outside the uterine cavity.
  3. Submucous (submucosal or intracavitary) fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity.
  4. Pedunculated fibroids grow on a stalk and develop either in the uterus or outside the uterus

Although it is not known what causes uterine fibroids, they tend to require the hormone estrogen to grow. A fibroid will likely 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.

Uterine polyps, on the other hand, 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.

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.

What is the main difference between the two?

The main difference between uterine polyps and uterine fibroids is that fibroids are composed of muscle tissue and polyps are made of endometrial tissue. Additionally, polyps are usually very small. They range in size from just a few millimeters to several centimeters. Fibroids, however, may range in size from just a few millimeters to the size of a watermelon.

Because many of the symptoms of these two conditions are similar– including irregular menstrual bleeding that varies in duration and heaviness, spotting and sometimes infertility. If think that you are experiencing any of these issues, visit your Gynecologist to be evaluated.

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