By the age of 50, three out of four women will develop uterine fibroids. African Americans and overweight females are at a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids, compared to other ethnicities and those of normal weight. Fibroids can contribute to irregular bleeding, infertility, pelvic pain, recurrent pregnancy loss, and other reproductive complications. Common treatment for uterine fibroids is a hysterectomy along with some other options as well.
Testosterone belongs to the group of hormones known as androgens. Testosterone is commonly associated with men and has a larger effect in men, but women, too, have testosterone necessary for many functions. It’s important that testosterone levels remain low or else complications may arise.
Study author Jason Y.Y. Wong said, “Our research suggests women undergoing the menopausal transition who have higher testosterone levels have an increased risk of developing fibroids, particularly if they also have higher estrogen levels. This study is the first longitudinal investigation of the relationship between androgen and estrogen levels and the development of uterine fibroids.”
The study occurred over 13 years, examining hormone levels and incidences of uterine fibroids of 3,240 women. The women were followed up through their annual visits where they had their blood tested for estrogen and androgen levels. Women were also asked whether they had been diagnosed with uterine fibroids or not.
Of all participants, 512 women reported having a single incident of fibroids and 478 women had recurrent cases. Women with high levels of testosterone were 1.33 times more likely to have a single incident of uterine fibroids, compared to women with low testosterone levels. Women with high testosterone and estrogen were at an even greater risk of developing fibroids.
Author Jennifer S. Lee added, “Our findings are particularly interesting because testosterone was previously unrecognized as a factor in the development of uterine fibroids. The research opens up new lines of inquiry regarding how fibroids develop and how they are treated. Given that managing uterine fibroids costs an estimated $34.4 billion in annual medical expenditures nationwide, it is important to identify new ways to better treat this common condition.”
Uterine fibroids treatment options
There are certain factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing uterine fibroids, including older age, family history of uterine fibroids, ethnicity, being overweigh or obese, and eating habits – consuming high amounts of red meat, for example.
Uterine fibroids can lead to pain, discomfort, and many reproductive complications, including a higher risk for a C-section delivery, breeched babies, labor failing in progress, placental abruption, and even pre-term deliveries.
Treatment of uterine fibroids depends on the severity of symptoms, whether you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant, the size of the fibroids, the location of the fibroids, your age, and how close you are to menopause.
Medications are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms related to uterine fibroids and birth-control pills may be prescribed to help slow down the growth of the fibroids.
Depending on severity of the uterine fibroids, there are many different surgery options, including myomectomy to remove the fibroids, hysterectomy to remove the uterus, endometrial ablation to remove the lining of the uterus, myolysis in which the fibroids are frozen and removed, and uterine fibroid embolization to block the blood supply to the fibroid.
Depending on your unique situation, you can discuss with your doctor which option is best for you.