Causes Of Cervical Polyps
Estrogen, Medications And Other Risk Factors

types of polyps

Woman taking pills
Polyps may be a side effect of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen.

Causes Of Cervical Polyps


Causes Of Cervical Polyps
Effects Of Estrogen
Tamoxifen (TAM) Drug
Chronic Inflammation
Clogged Blood Vessels

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Polyps Guide

Causes Of Cervical Polyps

Doctors are still not sure what causes cervical polyps - there may be more than one cause. Current theories include:

• Abnormal response to the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen may over stimulate the growth of cervical tissue.
• Chronic inflammatory disease
• Clogged blood vessels in the cervix.

Effects Of Estrogen

A recent study (2011), presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) annual meeting, reported a link between excess estrogen levels and gynecological polyps. The study focused on uterine polyps but it is thought that estrogen plays a similar role in the development of cervical polyps. Doctors at the Mid-Iowa Fertility Clinic carried out research on 229 female patients. 136 had endometrial polyps and 93 did not. They discovered that:

• 24 percent of patients with polyps had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) compared with 8 percent of the other group. PCOS is associated with a hormone imbalance.
• The body mass index (BMI) of those with polyps was considerably higher than those without. Fat women produce more estrogen.
• There was no significant difference in smoking status, number of childbirths a woman experienced or presence of endometriosis (another type of growth in the womb).

Researchers claim that the study provides significant evidence for a link between excess estrogen and uterine polyps (read about the causes of uterine polyps for more information, as well as the effects of estrogen for an overview of this powerful hormone.).

Tamoxifen (TAM) Drug

Tamoxifen (TAM) is a drug that controls the effects of certain estrogen in the body. It is widely used in the treatment of breast cancer. It has been reported that it increases the incidence rate of both cervical and uterine polyps, namely because it interferes with the body's hormone balance. In fact some doctors now insist that all TAM users should have an annual Pap smear test and pelvic examination to check for polyps. Research indicates that newer anti-hormonal agents like aromatase inhibitors, could also cause lower genital tract lesions.

Readers Story
I've taken tamoxifen for the last 3 years. After the first year I had a hysteroscope and D&C because my gyno had discovered a small polyp on my uterus and wanted to removed it. A year later, I needed another D&C to remove yet another polyp, but this one was 5.3cm long. Fortunately it was benign. I've just had another ultrasound scan and found another 2 growths in my uterus and in the physical examination they found one in the cervix. At this stage I'm thinking of having a hysterectomy to end the problem - at least uterus-related problems.
Carol, Oakland.

Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is a healthy immune response - tissue becomes red and swollen after injury or infection, it indicates your body is healing or fighting the source of infection. Chronic inflammation is more insidious. It means that internal tissues in the body are in a permanent state of inflammation because the immune system loses its ability to know when to shut down. This slowly damages the body and is linked to many major diseases including heart disease, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It may even cause the cervix cells to become inflamed and promote the growth of polyps. Most of the time we have no idea that our body is inflamed. There is no reliable test to screen for it. One test can measure an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein - high levels are associated with increased stroke and heart attack risk factors. What causes the immune system to respond in this way is not clear. What we do know is that people with poor health habits are more vulnerable. Women with diabetes and recurrent vaginitis (which may also be related to chronic inflammation) have a higher risk of developing cervical lesions.

Clogged Blood Vessels

Inflammation of the cervix, either due to chronic inflammation or infection (such as a sexually transmitted disease) can interfere with the vascular (vein) structure of the cervix. If blockages occur it may lead to swelling and abnormal cell growth (benign lesions).

  Related Articles on Polyps

For related information, see the following:

Symptoms of Cervical Polyps: Recognize the signs.
Cervical polyps in pregnancy: Management and treatment.
Treatment of Cervical Polyps: Polypectomy and D&C

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