Understanding Ovarian Polyps
When a woman hears the term “ovarian polyps” and “diagnosis” in the same sentence, she is liable to feel the instant inner workings of dread. The truth is that polyps are not a sure sign of cancer and should not be treated as a death sentence. If your doctor has suggested the possibility of you having ovarian polyps, then the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn what you can about the condition. Let’s take a look at some of the basics regarding ovarian polyps.
What is an ovarian polyp?
A polyp is simply an abnormal growth of tissue that forms on a mucous membrane. There are two main types of polyps: pedunculated and sessile. Pedunculated polyps attach to the ovary via a stalk, or pedicle. Sessile polyps have a flat base which attaches directly to the ovary. The majority of ovarian polyps are pedunculated. The surface of a polyp can be irregular or smooth, although the texture usually doesn’t have much bearing on the condition itself.
What issues can polyps cause?
In the majority of cases, polyps generally remain undetected because they rarely produce symptoms. This is due to their small size. Provided the polyp remains small, there may not be any consequences of its presence and it can simply be monitored for changes. Issues can begin to arise if the polyp starts to grow in size. As the polyp grows, it can push against other tissues causing an excessive amount of pressure. This increase in pressure can lead to bleeding. In many instances, the bleeding is more likely to occur with stimulation, such as before menstruation or intercourse, however it is possible to bleed between periods. Polyps can also lead to heavier blood flow during menstruation. If the polyp is particularly large in size it can cause abdominal cramping.
Are there any treatments available?
Polyps can be detected through ultrasound or through x-ray. Both procedures are very simple and can be done in about ten minutes. It may be necessary to put dye into the uterus and to allow it to travel up the fallopian tubes where it can reach the ovaries. This will make the polyp mass much easier to detect, especially if one is trying to determine whether any growth has occurred.
Because a polyp is technically a form of tumor, it does have the potential to become cancerous. Most tumors begin as benign, or non-cancerous, tissues masses. Some go away and pose no further threat; however if the tissues continue to grow or if the mass undergoes abnormal changes, it risks the chance of becoming cancerous further down the line. An existing polyp should be checked on periodically for growth or other changes, but that does not necessarily mean that it has to be surgically removed.
Surgical removal is an option, however. The best candidates would be those who may have a cancerous polyp or a polyp that is so large in mass that it is causing abnormal bleeding, exaggerated pre menstrual syndrome symptoms such as bloating and lower back pain. Surgery may also be chosen if the polyp is causing an overall lower quality of life for the patient. Ovarian polyp removal is typically an outpatient procedure and can be done with or without pain killers. It is advised that the patient allows at least two days of rest to allow the body to recover, although the amount of pain and discomfort varies from woman to woman, most patients are prescribed mild pain killers after the procedure.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of ovarian polyps, speak to your gynecologist or general physician about what you are experiencing. The sooner the condition is caught the better!