Cervical polyps are noncancerous tumors that don’t cause symptoms and may not require treatment. Getting regular pelvic exams and Pap tests can help detect cervical polyps early.

Cervical polyps are small, elongated tumors that grow on the cervix, which is the narrow canal at the bottom of the uterus that extends into the vagina.

The cervix connects the uterine cavity and the upper portion of the vagina. It acts as the passageway for sperm to fertilize an egg, which could result in pregnancy. During labor, the cervix becomes thinner and wider. This allows the baby to pass through the birth canal.

Polyps are fragile structures that grow from stalks rooted on the surface of the cervix or inside of the cervical canal. If someone has polyps, usually only one polyp is present, and two or three at most.

According to a 2017 review, the incidence of polyps peaks during the fifth decade of life. Polyps almost never occur before the start of menstruation. Polyps are also common during pregnancy, which may occur due to an increase in the hormone estrogen.

Cervical polyps are usually benign, or not cancerous, and cervical cancer rarely arises from them. Most cervical cancers are due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is also the cause of genital warts.

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Polyps on the cervix may not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, see a gynecologist right away if you experience vaginal discharge of white or yellow mucus or abnormally heavy periods.

You should also call a doctor if you experience vaginal spotting or bleeding:

Some of these symptoms can also be signs of cancer. In rare cases, polyps represent an early phase of cervical cancer. Removing them helps reduce this risk.

Ask a doctor how often you should get regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. Recommendations can vary depending on your age and health history.

It isn’t fully understood why cervical polyps occur. Their formation may be linked to:

  • increased levels of estrogen, which is the female sex hormone
  • chronic inflammation of the cervix, vagina, or uterus
  • clogged blood vessels

High estrogen levels

Estrogen levels naturally fluctuate throughout life. Your estrogen levels will be highest during childbearing years, during any pregnancies, and in the months leading up to menopause.

Synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen are present in the environment.

For example, xenoestrogens are in commercially produced meats and dairy products. Chemical estrogens can also be released into food that’s heated in plastic or plastic foam containers. Even some air fresheners contain phthalates, which are other estrogen-like chemicals.


An inflamed cervix appears red, irritated, or eroded. Some of the known causes of cervical inflammation include:

Polyps are easy for a doctor to see during a routine pelvic exam. A doctor will see smooth, fingerlike growths on the cervix that appear red or purple. The two types of cervical polyps are ectocervical and endocervical.

Ectocervical polyps arise from the outer surface layer of cells on the cervix. Endocervical polyps arise from the cervical glands, and they’re the most common type of cervical polyp. Postmenopausal females are more likely to have ectocervical polyps, and premenopausal females are more likely to have endocervical polyps.

Biopsies, or tissue samples, of the polyps are taken and sent to a laboratory for testing. Results usually show benign polyp cells. In rare cases, abnormal cells or precancerous patterns of growth known as neoplastic changes may be present.

Sometimes, cervical polyps will disconnect from the cervix on their own. This can occur while a female is menstruating or during sexual intercourse.

Doctors don’t routinely remove cervical polyps unless they cause symptoms. Removing cervical polyps is a simple procedure that a doctor can perform in their office. No pain medication is necessary. Methods for removing cervical polyps include:

  • twisting the polyp off at the base
  • tying surgical string around the base of the polyp and cutting it away
  • using ring forceps to remove the polyp

Methods to destroy the base of the polyp include the use of:

You may feel a brief, mild pain during removal and mild to moderate cramps for a few hours afterward. Spotting of blood from the vagina may occur for 1 or 2 days after removal.

In some instances, the polyps or the polyp stems are too large to remove in a doctor’s office. If this is the case, you may need to have surgery to remove the cervical polyp in a hospital or surgery center.

The outlook for people with cervical polyps is excellent. Once the doctor removes them, they don’t usually grow back.

Polyp removal is a simple, safe, and noninvasive procedure. However, if you’ve ever had polyps, you’re at increased risk of developing them again. Getting regular pelvic exams helps ensure finding any growths early in their development.

Since some infections are linked to cervical polyps, a few simple steps may help reduce your risk.

Wear cotton underwear that allows good air circulation. This prevents excess heat and moisture, which is the perfect environment for infections. Also, use a condom or other barrier method during intercourse.

Be sure to get regular pelvic exams and Pap tests, which can help detect cervical polyps early.

How frequently you should get Pap tests depends on your overall health history and age. A doctor can recommend the amount of time, which usually is anywhere from 3 to 5 years for females who haven’t had a history of abnormal Pap results.