Teenage Hormone Therapy Linked to Fertility Problems
25 October 2004
Research in (The Lancet) suggests that tall girls who are given estrogen therapy in adolescence to reduce their adult height are more likely to experience later fertility problems. Estrogen treatment to reduce the adult height of tall girls has been in use since the 1950’s. The treatment alters the development of the long bones and has been reported to reduce adult height by 2-10 cm. The research showed that treated women were more likely to have tried for a year or more to become pregnant without success, more likely to have seen a doctor because they were having difficulty becoming pregnant and were twice as likely to have ever taken fertility drugs compared with women not given hormone therapy.
In terms of the time to first pregnancy, women who had received estrogen therapy in adolescence were 40% less likely to conceive in any given menstrual cycle of unprotected intercourse. Lead investigator Alison Venn, from the University of Tasmania, said: “Our findings indicate that exposure to high-dose estrogens in adolescence is associated with impaired fertility in later life. This effect was seen as both a reduced per cycle rate of conception in those who conceived, and as an increase in the risk of experiencing infertility. The availability of infertility treatments is likely to have contributed to the finding that women who were treated for tall stature had only a small decrease in the probability of eventually conceiving and having a live birth compared with untreated women.”