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What is the Difference Between Uterine Polyps vs. Fibroids?

Both are uterine growths, but the main difference are Fibroids and polyps contain very different types of tissue. Fibroids are made of dense, connective fibrous tissue. (The word fibroid comes from fibrous.) Polyps are made of endometrial tissue, the tissue found in the uterine lining.

Why is recognizing the difference important? Both types of growth can cause heavy periods, irregular periods, or fertility issues, but fibroids are not, by definition, cancerous. In contrast, uterine polyps do have the potential to become cancer. Therefore, your health practitioner should be monitoring for changes in size and to any of your symptoms.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

The first thing to know about fibroids is that they are NOT cancer. Patients often feel stressed when they are first diagnosed. Yes, fibroids are a kind of tumor, but they are benign. While they can cause uncomfortable and occasionally debilitating symptoms, they are also very treatable without surgery.

A fibroid is a type of benign growth that can occur in or even outside the uterus. Roughly 75% of all women will develop fibroids at some point in their lifetime. Most will be asymptomatic. Many fibroids will resolve on their own. But they can lead to a wide range of uncomfortable and inconvenient symptoms. So it’s essential to take control of your treatment options and not just quietly suffer from the issues fibroids can cause:

  • Pain and excessive bleeding
  • Fertility issues
  • Distended abdomen and weight gain
  • Urinary issues or incontinence
  • Painful sex and lowered sex drive
  • Feelings of isolation and depression
  • Anemia and anemia related fatigue
  • Anxiety-related to uncontrolled symptoms such as unexpected, heavy bleeding

What Are Uterine Polyps?

Uterine polyps are very different from fibroids. The lining of the uterus begins to produce polyps instead of being normally shed during menstruation. Polyps are essentially an overgrowth of cells that would usually be flushed out as part of the female body’s natural build-up and shedding of the endometrial lining. While fibroids and polyps occur in the same area (uterine tissue), it’s important to recognize they are very different types of growths.

Symptoms of Uterine Polyps

Some women never experience symptoms from polyps. Polyps may also occur and then go away on their own. It’s important to watch out for key signs that may indicate lingering or increasingly aggressive symptoms caused by persistent polyps. See a practitioner who knows the difference between polyps and fibroids. Symptoms caused by polyps may be:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Excessively heavy menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Infertility

Why Is the Difference Between Polyps and Fibroids Important?

Uterine Polyps vs. fibroids

 

It’s important to know about polyps vs. fibroids because polyps can lead to serious health issues, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Instability of “normal” cycles
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Infertility

Polyps have the potential to become cancerous. Fibroids, by definition, are not cancerous and cannot become cancerous. But in both types of uterine growths, it’s essential to consult with your doctor, determine which you are experiencing and then agree on a treatment plan. Being pro-active, in this case, means taking control of changes in your body. Changes that genuinely do need to be dealt with.

Fibroids can be treated with non-surgical embolization. However, polyps usually require surgical removal instead of non-invasive techniques.

Uterine Polyps vs. Fibroids: A Closer Look

These uterine growths form in similar locations, but the difference between polyps and fibroids can affect your overall health in profound ways if not diagnosed and differentiated correctly. Both can produce similar symptoms; bad periods, pelvic discomfort, pain during sex, bladder issues, infertility. But treatment protocol is different. And the outcome, should a polyp should be cancerous, will be very different.
Polyps form in the endometrial tissue, which lines the uterus. Often, they will remain quite small, growing a few centimeters in diameter. Polyps often regress and shrink on their own. While polyps are usually benign, it’s important to confirm that’s the case. Get a medical professional to evaluate you and possibly take a tissue sample (called a biopsy) to rule out the possibility your polyps might be cancerous or pre-cancerous.

Fibroids, while often causing unpleasant symptoms, do not carry the threat of turning cancerous. Most fibroids can be treated very successfully with minimally invasive Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). But embolization is not suitable for polyps. A non-surgical option for polyps is to try controlling them with hormone-balancing drugs. Still, this approach may not eliminate the problem. And when symptoms persist, surgery may be required.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Once you have been diagnosed with either fibroids or polyps, begin building a treatment plan that will keep you healthy and safe. At the Fibroid Treatment Collective, we’ve helped countless women find relief from fibroids through non-surgical Uterine Fibroid Embolization. This specialized approach allows you to avoid surgery. But it is not appropriate as a uterine polyp treatment.

If you think you might have uterine fibroids or polyps, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll begin working with you to determine the cause of your symptoms and the treatment most suited to relieve them. Taking action now is the best way to end the uncertainty and anxiety that keep women caught in a cycle of fear and bad health.

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