Polyps versus Fibroids: Understanding the Difference

Polyps versus Fibroids: Understanding the Difference

About 75% of women develop uterine fibroids at some point or other, but many never realize they have the growths. Many fewer women develop polyps, around 30%, and it’s far more common among women either experiencing menopause and those who are post-menopausal. Though both fibroids and polyps are examples of cell overgrowth, they’re significantly different. 

An experienced and highly knowledgeable provider can help you understand if you have fibroids or polyps, as well as your options for treatment. Dr. Parisa Pourzand and her staff have diagnosed and effectively treated many cases of both fibroids and polyps

Similarities in fibroids and polyps

Both fibroids and polyps are growths in your uterus. They can both vary in size from very small to quite large, and both are very treatable. 

Furthermore, both types of growth can cause similar symptoms, including: 

Beyond those similarities between fibroids and polyps, there are some important distinctions that may affect how Dr. Pourzand suggests treating them.  

Differences in fibroids and polyps

One of the main differences between fibroids and polyps has to do with the tissue where they occur and their location. 

Fibroids appear in the thick muscle of your uterine wall. They are made of a fibrous tissue, as the name indicates. Fibroids can either be very small or can grow large enough that you may look six to seven months pregnant. 

Polyps are sometimes called endometrial polyps because they occur in your endometrium, the lining of your uterus that’s shed each month during your period. Most women who have polyps are either getting close to menopause or are past it. 

Polyps don’t usually get especially large, and because they occur in the endometrium they’re made up of a less dense, tough tissue than fibroids. In women who are not menopausal, the endometrium sheds each month, which is why polyps usually form in women who no longer have periods. 

Another key difference between fibroids and polyps is that fibroids are benign — they pose no risk of cancer. Polyps are usually benign, but cancer can develop from them.  

Treatments

Often, fibroids don’t require treatment. If they aren’t causing symptoms, Dr. Pourzand may recommend a “watch and wait” approach. If they continue to pose no issues, you may not need treatment. 

Because polyps pose a cancer risk, they require monitoring. Dr. Pourzand may recommend removing one to make sure that it’s benign. In some cases, polyps go away on their own. 

Treatments for both types of growth are similar. Medication may help the growths shrink. Procedures such as uterine artery embolization can help by restricting blood flow to the fibroids or polyps. 

In some cases, surgery is necessary. Dr. Pourzand may recommend a type of surgery that is done through your vagina, so there are no incisions, or laparoscopic surgery with a few very small incisions. In some cases, traditional surgery is the best option. 

Personalized treatment

When Dr. Pourzand suggests a course of treatment for you, it’s based on your individual situation. Fibroids and polyps are different, and you are different. Your age, overall health, personal goals, and many other factors are important in the consideration of your treatment options. 

If you have questions about fibroids or polyps, or you’re experiencing symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Pourzand. We have offices in both Glendale and Los Angeles, and you can schedule an appointment at either office online or by phone.

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