Prenatal 'female hormone' administration and psychosexual development in human males

Kester, P.; Green, R.; Finch, S.J.; Williams, K.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 5(4): 269-285


ISSN/ISBN: 0306-4530
PMID: 7208750
Document Number: 460051
Considerable data exist from animal research relating prenatal hormone levels to postnatal behaviors in the male. The data from human males are few. One strategy for testing this association is the study of humans exposed prenatally to exogenous pregnancy-maintaining hormones. Fifty-eight young adult males exposed to 1 of 4 hormone regimens were matched against nonhormone exposed controls. There were 17 males exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES), 22 exposed to DES and natural progesterone, 10 to natural progesterone only, and 13 to synthetic progesterone. Subjects were interviewed for various aspects of psychosexual development, and administered the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI), the Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey (GZTS), the Strong Vocational Interest Blank (SVIB), and the Embedded Figures Test (EFT). Drug, total dosage, and time of drug administration were significantly associated with several aspects of boyhood, adolescent, and adult psychosexual development on interview and with differences in scales of the psychometric tests. The most contrasting boyhood behaviors were between those exposed to progesterone and DES progesterone subjects tended to recall boyhood behaviors which departed from the conventional male mode toward femininity. The DES subjects tended to recall the most conventionally masculine boyhoods. During adulthood, DES plus natural progesterone subjects reported a high sex drive, while synthetic progesterone subjects reported a low sex drive. Erectile failure was more often reported by subjects exposed to natural progesterone only. Three drug regimens were associated with elevations of the Feminine scale of the BSRI, and 2 with elevations of the feminine scale of the GZTS. The rates of homosexual behavior were comparable for drug and non-drug-exposed subjects.

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