Vaginal polyps are abnormal growths of skin that develop inside the vagina. These growths are often described as skin tags, which are like small stems or stalks of skin. In most cases, vaginal polyps are benign and do not cause any pain. A woman may be unaware that she even has them.
While vaginal polyps are often present without any symptoms, some women do notice changes related to them. For example, a woman may have an abnormal discharge that is unrelated to any other type of vaginal condition. She may also bleed between her menstrual periods. Sometimes, a woman may also experience discomfort or outright pain in relation to vaginal polyps.
A doctor can typically detect the presence of vaginal polyps through a physical examination. In many cases, a doctor may not recommend treatment, however. Vaginal polyps are usually benign, and if they're not causing symptoms, a doctor may see no reason to remove them. Since it can be difficult to be 100-percent sure the growths are not cancerous, however, he may recommend removing a polyp and performing a biopsy on it. This test is just to make sure the polyp doesn't contain any cancerous cells.
When treatment is necessary or desired, removal procedures can usually be handled in a doctor's office or outpatient clinic. To cut a polyp away from the rest of the vaginal tissue, a doctor may use a tool called a speculum to spread the vaginal tissues, so he can see inside and treat the affected area. He may then use a local anesthetic medication to ensure the patient won't feel pain during the procedure. Finally, a doctor typically uses a surgical tool to snip away the polyp from the normal vaginal tissue.
It is also possible to remove vaginal polyps using chemicals that freeze them off or with special lasers. A doctor may be reluctant to use these procedures, however, if there's a chance a polyp could be cancerous. Both types of treatments destroy the polyp, so there's no chance to perform a biopsy. For this reason, doctors may recommend against these forms of treatment unless they are sure the polyps are benign.
Following a procedure to remove vaginal polyps, it is normal to feel some discomfort. For example, a patient may experience minor cramping. Some patients may experience a small amount of vaginal bleeding as well. Many women are able to continue with their normal routines, without the use of pain killers, however.