Pelvic Pain in Transgender People Using Testosterone Therapy

Sav Zwickl, Laura Burchill, Alex Fang Qi Wong, Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Teddy Cook, Lachlan M. Angus, Kalen Eshin, Charlotte V. Elder, Sonia R. Grover, Jeffrey D. Zajac, Ada S. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose: This descriptive study aimed to assess the characteristics of pelvic pain and explore predictive factors for pelvic pain in transgender (trans) individuals using testosterone therapy. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was open between August 28, 2020, and December 31, 2020, to trans people presumed female at birth, using testosterone for gender affirmation, living in Australia, and >16 years of age. The survey explored characteristics of pelvic pain following initiation of testosterone therapy, type and length of testosterone therapy, menstruation history, and relevant sexual, gynecological, and mental health experiences. Logistic regression was applied to estimate the effect size of possible factors contributing to pain after starting testosterone. Results: Among 486 participants (median age = 27 years), 351 (72.2%)∗ reported experiencing pelvic pain following initiation of testosterone therapy, described most commonly as in the suprapubic region and as "cramping."Median duration of testosterone therapy was 32 months. Persistent menstruation, current or previous history of post-traumatic stress disorder, and experiences of pain with orgasm were associated with higher odds of pelvic pain after testosterone therapy. No association was observed with genital dryness, intrauterine device use, previous pregnancy, penetrative sexual activities, touching external genitalia, or known diagnoses of endometriosis, vulvodynia, vaginismus, depression, anxiety, or obesity. Conclusions: Pelvic pain is frequently reported in trans people following initiation of testosterone therapy. Given the association with persistent menstruation and orgasm, as well as the known androgen sensitivity of the pelvic floor musculature, further research into pelvic floor muscle dysfunction as a contributor is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-190
Number of pages12
JournalLGBT Health
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • menstruation disturbances
  • pelvic pain
  • sexual activity
  • sexual function
  • testosterone
  • transgender persons

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