Prenatal Estrogens and the Development of Homosexual Orientation

Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Anke A. Ehrhardt, Laura R. Rosen, Rhoda S. Gruen, Norma P. Veridiano, Felix H. Vann, Herbert F. Neuwalder

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105 Scopus citations

Abstract

In psychobiological research on sexual orientation, the prenatal hormone theory has a central position. This article examines the hypothesis that prenatal estrogens contribute to the development of human sexual orientation. Several groups of women with a history of prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a nonsteroidal synthetic estrogen, were compared with several samples of control women in the context of a comprehensive study of the psychiatric and psychologic effects of prenatal DES. Various aspects of sexual orientation were assessed by systematic interview. Consistently across samples, more DES-exposed women than controls were rated as bisexual or homosexual (scores 2-6 on Kinsey-format scales ranging from 0 to 6). The data are compatible with the hypothesis that prenatal estrogens may play a role in the development of human sexual orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

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