This article was last reviewed and updated on March 6, 2019
by Emily Goebel, MD FRCPC
An endocervical polyp is a non-cancerous growth that grows on the cervix.
Endocervical polyps are very common and they can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
The normal cervix
The cervix is part of the female genital tract. It is found at the bottom of the uterus where it forms an opening and a canal into the endometrial cavity of the uterus.
The outer surface of the cervix is lined by two types of cells that form a barrier called the epithelium. The first part of the cervix (the part closer to the vagina) is lined by squamous cells. The second part of the cervix is called the endocervical canal and it is lined by rectangular shaped cells which connect together to make small structures called glands.
The tissue below the epithelium is called the stroma and is made up of connective tissue and blood vessels.
What is an endocervical polyp?
An endocervical polyp is a non-cancerous growth made up of endocervical glands and stroma. This type of growth is called a polyp because it sticks out from the inner surface of the endocervical canal.
Sometimes your pathologist will see both endocervical glands and endometrial glands (the type that are normally found inside the uterus) when examining your tissue under the microscope. When both types of glands are seen, the polyp is called a mixed endocervical and endometrial polyp. This type of polyp is also non-cancerous (benign).
Endocervical polyps are common and are often been seen by your physician at the time of cervical examination during a pap test. Endocervical polyps can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding, including after intercourse, postmenopausal bleeding, or vaginal discharge, but many patients with endocervical polyps experience no symptoms at all.
How do pathologists make this diagnosis?
The diagnosis of endocervical polyp is made when a sample of tissue is removed and sent to a pathologist for examination under the microscope. The glands in an endocervical polyp are larger than the glands in normal cervical tissue and the blood vessels have thicker walls.
All endocervical polyps are closely examined for other common conditions that can develop in the cervix including:
If your pathologist sees any of these conditions in your tissue sample, they will be listed in your pathology report.