Can uterine polyps affect fertility?
Uterine polyps are overgrowth of the inner lining of the womb. They are common in women in their reproductive age and are generally non-cancerous.
There are 2 types of uterine polyps: those located in the neck of the womb (cervical polyps) and those found in the body of the womb (endometrial polyps).
Both types are linked to infertility. How they adversely impact fertility is not well understood. For cervical polyps, researchers have suggested that it may interfere with the production of cervical mucus. During ovulation, cervical mucus is thin and slippery to help the sperm on its journey to fertilize the egg. Polyps with the associated inflammation will make the mucus thick and sticky, thus preventing the transportation of the sperm up the genital tract.
In the case of endometrial polyps, the mechanisms are thought to be as follows:
1. Mechanical interference with sperm movement
2. Prevention of embryo implantation because of associated inflammation
3. Hindrance of embryo development
Studies have shown that resection of polyps can improve natural conception rates in infertile women with pregnancy rates ranging from 43% to 80%. For intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF), the pregnancy rates also improved after patients had undergone polyp removal.
It is recommended by the American Association of Gynaecologic Laparoscopists(AAGL) in their practice report that infertile women with uterine polyps should have them removed surgically.