Cervical Conditions

Routine pelvic exams and Pap tests can help discover many cervical conditions before they become more serious. Early detection and treatment can lead to better results.

The cervix is the lower, narrow part of your uterus (womb) that leads to your vagina. It has a small opening that allows menstrual flow and expands during childbirth.

Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam and a Pap test during your routine gynecologic checkup to look for abnormalities in the cells of your cervix that could indicate conditions such as:

  • Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix, usually from an infection)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Polyps
  • Cysts

Cervical Polyps

Cervical polyps are growths on the lower part of your uterus. The exact cause is unknown, but increased estrogen levels and chronic inflammation may play a role. Cervical polyps are common in women over 20, and even more common in women who’ve had children. Most polyps are benign, or not cancerous. However, they can contain precancerous or cancerous cells.


Polyps often don’t cause symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Heavy menstrual periods.
  • Vaginal bleeding after douching or intercourse.
  • Bleeding between periods or after menopause.
  • White or yellow mucus discharge.

The symptoms of cervical polyps may resemble other conditions or medical problems. It’s important to get regular pelvic exams and to always contact your doctor when you experience a change in normal functioning.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Polyps look like smooth, red or purple fingerlike growths on your cervix. If your doctor finds a polyp during your pelvic exam, he or she will recommend a cervical biopsy just to make sure it’s not cancerous.

At El Camino Health, your doctor can remove polyps during a simple, outpatient procedure. Smaller polyps can sometimes be removed with gentle twisting, while larger polyps may require a procedure called LEEP. This procedure uses a thin, wire loop that’s heated by electric current to remove the growth.

Cervical Cysts

Cervical cysts are mucus-filled sacs that form on the cervix when mucus becomes trapped. They’re caused by normal tissue growing over mucus-producing tissue. Cysts are rarely cancerous.

Cervical cysts are usually discovered during a pelvic exam. In general, cervical cysts don't cause symptoms or require treatment. However, if your doctor thinks your cyst looks unusual, or if you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain during intercourse, your doctor may collect a tissue sample for further testing.