Article

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 57-77

First online:

Sexual orientation after prenatal exposure to exogenous estrogen

  • Anke A. EhrhardtAffiliated withNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • , Heino F. L. Meyer-BahlburgAffiliated withNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • , Laura R. RosenAffiliated withNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • , Judith F. FeldmanAffiliated withNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • , Norma P. VeridianoAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center
  • , I. ZimmermanAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center
  • , Bruce S. McEwenAffiliated withLaboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University

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Abstract

Thirty women aged 17 to 30 years with documented prenatal exposure to the nonsteroidal synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) were compared to thirty women of similar demographic characteristics from the same medical clinic who had a history of abnormal Pap smear findings. A subsample of the DES women were also compared to their DES-unexposed sisters. Sexual orientation in its multiple components was assessed by systematic semistructured interviews. In comparison to both control groups, the DES women showed increased bisexuality and homosexuality. However, about 75% of the DES women were exclusively or nearly exclusively heterosexual. Nonhormonal and hormonal interpretations of these findings are discussed.

Key words

homosexuality diethylstilbestrol prenatal hormones sexual orientation