Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 57–77 | Cite as

Sexual orientation after prenatal exposure to exogenous estrogen

  • Anke A. Ehrhardt
  • Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg
  • Laura R. Rosen
  • Judith F. Feldman
  • Norma P. Veridiano
  • I. Zimmerman
  • Bruce S. McEwen


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 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anke A. Ehrhardt
    • 1
  • Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg
    • 1
  • Laura R. Rosen
    • 1
  • Judith F. Feldman
    • 1
  • Norma P. Veridiano
    • 2
  • I. Zimmerman
    • 2
  • Bruce S. McEwen
    • 3
  1. 1.New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of PsychiatryColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyBrookdale Hospital Medical CenterBrooklynUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of NeuroendocrinologyRockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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