While the exact causes of uterine fibroids remain unknown, the influence of hormone activity has been identified as a possible risk factor and in particular excessive levels of the female hormone estrogen and to a lesser extent hormones such as progesterone. But recently, there was a study on whether there was a connection between the male hormone testosterone and fibroids.
There are various types of male hormones which are collectively known as androgens with testosterone being one of the most significant male hormones. Obviously men have significant levels of testosterone which helps them develop various male features at puberty which is when testosterone levels increase.
But women also normally have testosterone but these levels are supposed to remain low and not have much of an impact in women’s body. Men also have small levels of the female hormone estrogen which also doesn’t have a significant impact in their bodies when the levels remain low.
One of the commonly understood effects of high levels of testosterone in women or high levels of estrogen in men is the development of features that are considered male (in women such as deep voice, hair growth all over the body, balding, etc) and female (in men such as the enlargement of breasts, high voice, hips, etc.)
But now a study (published online in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism) has revealed that there may be a connection between testosterone and fibroids and the possibility of excessive testosterone levels increasing the risk of developing uterine fibroids.
“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,” study co-author Jason Wong, from Stanford University School of Medicine in California, said in the news release.
The 13-year longitudinal study examined hormone levels and the incidence of uterine fibroids in women participating in the Study of Women’s Health around the Nation (SWAN). Among the 3,240 women enrolled at the beginning of the study, 43.6 percent completed the follow-up visits. During nearly annual visits, participants had their blood tested for estrogen and androgen levels. In addition, the women were asked whether they had been diagnosed with or treated for uterine fibroids.
Among the participants, 512 women reported having a single incidence of fibroids, and an additional 478 women had recurrent cases. Participants who had high levels of testosterone in the blood were 1.33 times more likely to develop a single incidence of fibroids than women who had low levels of testosterone. Women who had high levels of testosterone and estrogen faced an even greater risk. Although women with high levels of both hormones were more likely to report a single incidence of fibroids, they also were less likely to have a recurrence than women with low levels of the hormones.
This study is very interesting as testosterone has not previously been associated with the risk of developing fibroid tumors. It is usually the many other hormones in the female body especially estrogen that are commonly considered.
This study is certainly important since unfortunately extensive fibroids research has been lacking so the results of this study should help open the door to further research and treatment options.
“Our findings are particularly interesting because testosterone was previously unrecognized as a factor in the development of uterine fibroids,” added senior author Jennifer S Lee, MD, PhD, also of Stanford University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
“The research opens up new lines of inquiry regarding how fibroids develop and how they are treated,” she says in an Endocrine Society statement.
“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.”
While the connection between testosterone and fibroids may seem like something else to worry about that you don’t need right now if you are struggling with fibroids, it’s still informative and should hopefully help in finding other answers for fibroids since so much of this condition is such a mystery.