Natural hair color and the incidence of endometriosis

Fertil Steril. 2006 Apr;85(4):866-70. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.12.008. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Objective: To investigate a previously hypothesized relation between natural hair color and endometriosis.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Nurses' Health Study II with 10 years of follow-up.

Participant(s): A total of 90,065 women, 25-42 years old, who had never been diagnosed with endometriosis, infertility, or cancer at baseline in 1989.

Main outcome measure(s): Incidence of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis according to natural hair color.

Result(s): During 379,422 person-years of follow-up, 1,130 cases of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis were reported among women with no past infertility. After adjusting for age, calendar time, parity, race, and body mass index at age 18, we observed no association overall. However, compared with women with any other hair color, we observed an increased rate of endometriosis among women with naturally red hair who had never been infertile (incidence rate = 1.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0-1.7), but a decreased rate among women with naturally red hair among women who were infertile (incidence rate = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2-1.2); P value, test for heterogeneity = .03.

Conclusion(s): Overall, we did not observe a significant relation between red hair color and the rate of endometriosis, however this prospective cohort study suggests that the relation may differ by infertility status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Endometriosis / epidemiology*
  • Endometriosis / genetics
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hair Color* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infertility, Female / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Female / genetics
  • Prospective Studies