Self-Reported Reproductive Tract Infections and Ultrasound Diagnosed Uterine Fibroids in African-American Women

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Jun;24(6):489-95. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.5051. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


Background: For decades, it has been hypothesized that reproductive tract infections (RTIs) are risk factors for uterine fibroids. However, only two recent studies have been conducted. We aimed to investigate the relationship between RTIs and fibroids in a large study using ultrasound screening for fibroids.

Methods: We used cross-sectional enrollment data from African American women ages 23-34 years with no previous fibroid diagnosis. RTI history was measured by self-report and fibroid status by standardized ultrasound. Secondary fibroid outcomes were size, number, and total volume. Age- and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs).

Results: In total, 1,656 women were included; 22% had fibroids. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) was associated with a 21% increased odds of fibroids [aOR 1.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93-1.58]. Chlamydia infection and pelvic inflammatory disease were associated with a 38% (aOR 0.62, 95% CI 0.40-0.97) and a 46% (aOR 0.54, 95% CI 0.25-1.17) reduced odds of having two or more fibroids, respectively. Those with a previous BV diagnosis had a 47% increased odds of having 2 or more fibroids (aOR 1.47, 95% CI 0.98-2.21) and a 41% increased odds of having a larger total fibroid volume (aOR 1.41, 95% CI 0.98-2.04).

Conclusions: Our study was the first to explore the relationship between RTIs and fibroid size, number, and total volume. There appeared to be no strong associations between self-reported RTIs and fibroids. Studies using serology, a biochemical measure of past infection, are needed to better investigate associations between RTIs and fibroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Leiomyoma / ethnology
  • Logistic Models
  • Odds Ratio
  • Reproductive Tract Infections / ethnology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Ultrasonography
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / ethnology