Newswise — Rockville, Md. (October 19, 2021)—Biologically born women who express feminine and masculine characteristics are more likely to choose uterine-preserving surgery to correct pelvic organ drooping, according to the results of a new study. The research team from the University of Calgary in Canada noted that this study is not based on gender identity, but gender expression. In addition, the findings show gender expression was not associated with traditional sociodemographic variables. 

The researchers surveyed women who were candidates for surgery to correct pelvic organ drooping, otherwise known as pelvic organ prolapse. The condition affects 3% of women in the U.S., some of whom develop the disorder after giving birth. Prolapse happens when organs such as the bladder, uterus, vagina, small bowel and rectum descend into or outside the vaginal canal or anus. 

Study participants were asked to rank on a scale of 0–6 how they see themselves and how they believe most people see them as it relates to femininity and masculinity. It was left to individual participants to determine what they consider feminine and masculine gender expression.

The study found women who self-reported expressing both feminine and masculine traits were 2.47 times more likely to choose a surgery that preserves the uterus rather than selecting a hysterectomy, as compared to women who reported expressing only feminine traits.

“We interpret our findings to suggest that gender expression is a unique demographic construct that is linked to treatment decisions in gynecologic health care,” said one of the researchers, Shannon Cummings, an undergraduate student at Queen’s University in Canada. “We believe this is because differences in gender expression influence people to be more comfortable defying stereotypical expectations and speak up for their preferences.”

Researchers will virtually present their study October 19–22 at the American Physiological Society’s seventh conference on New Trends in Sex and Gender Medicine

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, and/or request the abstract, “Polarity and diversity in gender expression: A novel measurement for sex and gender-based analysis conducted in clinical research with cisgender female participants,” please contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in the APS Newsroom.

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Journal Link: New Trends in Sex and Gender Medicine.