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What You Need to Know About Precancerous Changes in Your Uterus: Endometrial Hyperplasia

Maybe you've been having irregular or excessive vaginal bleeding, or maybe you've had pain during sex, but something has led you to see your health care provider and have a pelvic exam. If you find out that you don’t have cancer, you may feel relief. However, your health care provider may have noticed changes in your uterus that are not normal. The most common change is called endometrial hyperplasia. This means that the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium, is growing more than it should. In some cases, this growth can become cancerous over time.

If you have hyperplasia, your health care provider may suggest treatment.

These are the most common ways of diagnosing and monitoring endometrial hyperplasia:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound. High-frequency sound waves bounce off internal body parts to create pictures of your pelvic organs. Your health care provider can use this test to see how thick your endometrium is.

  • Dilation & curettage (D&C). During this procedure, your health care provider scrapes away the endometrium. This can be done to treat irregular or heavy bleeding.

  • Hysteroscopy. For this test, your health care provider puts a slender, telescope-like device through your cervix and into your uterus. Your health care provider can then look at your lining and remove cells from areas that look abnormal. These samples are sent to a lab for testing. 

  • Hysterectomy. This is surgery to take out your uterus.

If you have endometrial hyperplasia, your health care provider may suggest treatment. This includes: 

  • Hormone therapy. Your health care provider may prescribe a progestin. This medication mimics the female hormone progesterone, and can help reduce the thickness of your endometrial lining.

  • Hysterectomy. This is surgery to take out your uterus and can be done if your hyperplasia is atypical (more likely to progress to cancer) and you are finished with childbearing.  

If you have endometrial hyperplasia, talk with your health care provider about the best way to stay healthy.