Uterine Polyps and Fertility*
Can You Get Pregnant with Uterine Polyps?
Uterine polyps are growths in the endometrium, which is the membrane lining the uterus. They develop due to the overgrowth of endometrial tissue, ranging in size from a few millimetres to a few centimetres or larger. In some cases, more than one polyp may be present.
While these polyps are typically non-cancerous, they can cause issues with mensuration and your ability to have children. That is why it is important that you understand the warning signs associated with uterine polyps, as well as the potential causes so that you can take proactive action.
Concerned That You May Have Uterine Polyps? Here’s What You Need to Know
It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of women develop uterine polyps.1
Perhaps a friend of yours recently discovered that they had a uterine polyp, or you read about the symptoms of uterine polyps in a magazine and could relate?
Either way, if you suspect that something is abnormal in terms of your menstrual cycle and/or ability to conceive, it is important that you do not rule out these common growths — especially since they may be asymptomatic.
Causes of Uterine Polyps
- While the exact cause of polyps is not fully understood, hormonal factors appear to play the most significant role. Uterine polyps are sensitive to estrogen and grow in response to increased, circulating levels of this hormone.
- In addition, estrogen causes the endometrium to thicken each month. Higher than normal levels of estrogen may cause too much uterine lining to grow, increasing your risk of polyps.
- Age does appear to play a role, as polyps are more common in your 40s and 50s, which again, is likely due to fluctuating estrogen levels. However, uterine polyps can develop in women of all ages and very common in reproductive-age women.
- Additional risk factors may also include high blood pressure and obesity.2 You may also be at higher risk if you are taking the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
Symptoms of Uterine Polyps
- Bleeding between menstrual periods (and after menopause)
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Excessively heavy periods
- Irregular menstrual bleeding (i.e. varying amounts of bleeding and unpredictable intervals)
It is important to note that many women who have uterine polyps do not show any symptoms.3 However, large polyps can contribute to infertility. If you have been struggling to conceive, the difficulty you’re experiencing may be a warning sign of something else, including the growth of uterine polyps.
The Relationship Between Uterine Polyps and Fertility
There are many variables to consider when trying to conceive, especially in relation to implantation. Research shows that uterine polyps can act as a contraceptive, much like an intrauterine device (IUD). As polyps grow, they can prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus.
Some researchers believe that polyps may increase inflammation, making it even more difficult for implantation. Also, depending on the location of the polyps, a blockage may occur where the fallopian tubes enter the cavity, preventing fertilization of the egg.
How to Get Pregnant with Uterine Polyps
Although some polyps may resolve spontaneously, as regression has been observed in 27 percent of cases, the removal of uterine polyps is often recommended.4 One study reported a pregnancy rate of 76 percent, where 19 out of 25 infertile patients conceived within 12 months after the surgical removal of uterine polyps.5
High success rates have been showcased across a number of studies, including a 2018 study.6 Researchers examined the effects of the hysteroscopic removal of polyps, as well as fibroids, and adhesions. It was found that 63 percent of women achieved a clinical pregnancy after the removal of uterine polyps, compared to 28 percent of women who did not have their polyps removed.
The impact that a uterine polyp has on fertility levels is often based on the size and location of the polyp itself. That is why you should discuss your concerns with your doctor so that an ultrasound may be performed. That way, you can better understand your options, based on your unique circumstances.
While surgical removal continues to be the gold standard, you can also:
- Keep an eye on small polyps that are not showcasing any symptoms, as they may resolve on their own.
- Discuss what medications are available with your doctor. However, since medications used to treat uterine polyps are typically hormone agonists, make sure your doctor knows that you are trying to conceive before you take any new medication.
Take Care of Your Reproductive Health
Although uterine polyps can impact your level of fertility, they may only be one piece of the puzzle. Removal may significantly increase your chances of getting pregnant. However, you must also tend to your reproductive health in order to ensure the best possible chance of conceiving, as well as the healthiest pregnancy possible.
*NOTICE: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a potential medical condition.