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What Foods Might Cause Polyps

Uterine polyps seem to be more common among women approaching menopause, but are there other factors at play besides age?

Do genetics or lifestyle contribute to polyps? Are there foods that might cause polyps?

Here’s some information on why you may have polyps or be at risk for developing them, including what foods might cause polyps.

A Diagnosis of Uterine Polyps

If you have been diagnosed with uterine polyps, you may have had the following symptoms that sent you to the doctor:1

  • irregular periods, such as unpredictable timing and flow
  • unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding or spotting between periods
  • vaginal spotting or bleeding after menopause
  • bleeding after sex
  • issues with infertility

Or, polyps may be found during a procedure to diagnose a separate issue, or during a physical exam.1

What are uterine polyps? These growths are a result of the cells in the lining of the uterus over-growing. The resulting polyps attach to the inner wall of the uterus and expand into the uterus. They are typically non cancerous, but some can be cancerous or develop into cancer.2 

Uterine polyps can range in size from no larger than a sesame seed to golf-ball-sized or larger, and you can have one or many. They attach to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk, and usually stay within the uterus. There are instances where they can slip through the opening of the uterus into the vagina.2

As mentioned, uterine polyps are most common in women who are going through or have completed menopause. But younger people can get them, too.2

Besides age, other risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:1

  • being overweight or obese, with a BMI greater than 25
  • having high blood pressure
  • taking tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer
  • receiving hormone replacement therapy with high doses of estrogen

Can lifestyle influence the development or re-growth of polyps? For instance, can diet play a part?

What Foods Might Cause Polyps

There’s plenty of research available on foods that cause colorectal polyps. It’s not surprising that as with many dietary guidelines, it’s suggested that fruits, vegetables, and other foods with fiber are good for you, while you should avoid or lessen your intake of fatty foods, such as fried foods; red meat, such as beef and pork; and processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and lunch meats.3

That’s good advice for anyone.

In terms of uterine polyps, it’s believed that inflammation may influence their growth. Chronic inflammation can cause abnormal tissue growth, and inflammatory foods are one cause of inflammation. So an anti-inflammatory, low carb diet may help. Here’s an example: trans fats are more inflammatory while fish oils are anti-inflammatory.4

Some doctors suggest that the following foods are bad for your overall uterine health:

  • trans fat5
  • gluten5
  • high FodMap foods5 (FodMap being an acronym for a bunch of different carbohydrates that are all poorly absorbed by—and rapidly fermented in—the gut. Dairy and honey are two examples that might not surprise you, but beets and asparagus are other examples.)6
  • alcohol5
  • caffeine5

Other research suggests that improving your vaginal health will in turn improve your uterine health, and that foods like probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented food and beverages are great for your vaginal health.5

It’s suggested that:

1. Probiotics like yogurt, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and kombucha can help improve and regulate the vagina’s acidity levels.5

2. Prebiotics like leeks and onions, garlic, oats, and bananas can help stabilize vaginal PH, which promotes healthy bacteria growth.5

While there may not be a direct link between these examples of food and the cause of polyps, it’s true that what you eat has an impact on every aspect of your body.5

See Your Doctor

If you notice symptoms that could be a sign of uterine polyps, most commonly abnormal vaginal bleeding, see your health care provider promptly. Treatments are available, and your doctor may recommend testing the polyps to confirm that they are noncancerous. Your doctor can also provide advice on a healthy diet. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can help with your health concerns.

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