BOSTON—Low serum testosterone in women increase the likelihood of stress and mixed urinary incontinence, study findings presented at the American Urological Association 2017 annual meeting show. The study is the first to demonstrate such an association, according to researchers.
In a study of 2123 women who participated in the 2012 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and underwent measurements of serum total testosterone, Michelle Kim, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues found that women in the lowest quartile of testosterone level had 48% increased odds of stress incontinence and 65% increased odds of mixed incontinence compared with women not in the lowest quartile.
“The potential mechanism is that testosterone may prevent pelvic floor atrophy, thereby reducing the risk of urinary incontinence,” Dr Kim said in a press conference.
She pointed out that androgens have an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle and, in animal models, androgens have been shown to strengthen pelvic floor musculature.
The association between low testosterone and increased risk of stress and mixed incontinence, and the absence of an association with urge incontinence, makes sense because the mechanism of stress incontinence relies more heavily on the integrity of the pelvic floor.