Psychosexual characteristics of men and women exposed prenatally to Diethylstilbestrol.

Titus-Ernstoff L, Perez K, Hatch EE, Troisi R, Palmer JR, Hartge P, Hyer M, Kaufman R, Adam E, Strohsnitter W, Noller K, Pickett K, Hoover R. Epidemiology 2003;14:155-60.

Animal studies suggest that estrogen affects the developing brain, including the part that governs sexual behavior and right and left dominance. We examined the potential impact of prenatal DES exposure on these characteristics in 2,684 men and 5,686 women participating in the NCI DES Follow-up Study.

Information on marital status, sexual behavior, and handedness was reported by subjects on a questionnaire. Responses indicated that DES neither influenced sexual behavior nor resulted in an increased likelihood of homosexual contact. In sons, DES was unrelated to the likelihood of ever having been married or of having a same-sex sexual partner in adulthood, age at first intercourse and number of sexual partners. DES Daughters were slightly more likely than unexposed women to have ever been married but were less likely to report having had a same-sex sexual partner, having had their first sexual intercourse before age 17 and to having had more than one sexual partner.

DES Daughters were just as likely as unexposed women to be left-handed. DES Sons were slightly more likely to be left-handed than unexposed men. Overall, about 17% of women reported a mental illness, but we found no evidence that it was more frequent in the exposed than the unexposed women. Mental illness was not assessed in the men.

** PubMed abstract for this article **