UMMS Affiliation

Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

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Chemicals and Drugs | Environmental Public Health | Gender and Sexuality | Maternal and Child Health | Reproductive and Urinary Physiology


We assessed the associations of prenatal diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure, a potent estrogen, with sexual orientation and gender identity in 3306 women and 1848 men who participated in a study of prenatal DES exposure. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were derived from logistic regression models adjusted for birth year, study cohort, and education. Among women, the OR for DES in relation to reporting sexual orientation identity as nonheterosexual was 0.61 (95% CI 0.40-0.92) primarily due to a strong inverse association with a lesbian identity (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.25-0.76). Among men, the OR for DES in relation to reporting a nonheterosexual sexual orientation identity was 1.4 (95% CI 0.82-2.4), and ORs were similar for having a gay identity (1.4, 95% CI 0.72-2.85) and bisexual identity (1.4, 95% CI 0.57-3.5). Only five individuals reported a gender identity not conforming to that assigned at birth, preventing meaningful analysis. Women who were prenatally exposed to DES were less likely to have a lesbian or bisexual orientation, while DES-exposed men were somewhat more likely to report being gay or bisexual, but estimates were imprecise.


Diethylstilbestrol, Gender identity, In utero exposure, Sexual orientation identity

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

DOI of Published Version



Troisi R, Palmer JR, Hatch EE, Strohsnitter WC, Huo D, Hyer M, Fredriksen-Goldsen KI, Hoover R, Titus L. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Identity in Women and Men Prenatally Exposed to Diethylstilbestrol. Arch Sex Behav. 2020 Feb;49(2):447-454. doi: 10.1007/s10508-020-01637-7. Epub 2020 Jan 23. PMID: 31975033; PMCID: PMC7031187. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Archives of sexual behavior

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.