Nav: Home

Progesterone and bisexuality: Is there a link?

April 03, 2017

Bisexuality is quite common among men and women whose mothers received additional doses of the sex hormone progesterone while pregnant. This is one of the findings of a study led by June Reinisch, Director Emerita of The Kinsey Institute in the US, published in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study tracked the sexual development of 34 Danes whose mothers were treated with the hormone to prevent miscarriage.

According to the research team, progesterone appears to be an underappreciated factor influencing the normal development of variations in human sexuality and psychosexuality. The findings warrant further investigation given that little is known about the effects on offspring of natural variations in levels of maternal progesterone and that progesterone is widely used to treat pregnancy complications.

Men and women all naturally produce the sex hormone progesterone. It is involved in women's menstrual cycles, and helps to maintain pregnancies and development of the fetus. It plays a role in neural development and the production of other sex hormones as well as steroid hormones that help to regulate stress responses, inflammation, and metabolism in the body. Physicians often prescribe progesterone and its bio-versions to support the fertilization process, to prevent miscarriages or premature births, or to increase babies' birth weights.

The 34 participants in the study were drawn from the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort, which comprises information collected from virtually all children born between 1959 and 1961 at the university hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 17 men and 17 women were selected because their mothers exclusively received the progesterone lutocyclin to prevent a miscarriage. These men and women were compared with a carefully selected control group who were not exposed prenatally to lutocyclin or any other hormone medication, but who otherwise matched the study participants based on 14 relevant physical, medical, and socioeconomic factors. The participants were all in their mid-20s when asked about their sexual orientation, self-identification, attraction to each sex, and sexual history using questionnaires and a structured interview with a psychologist.

It was found that men and women whose mothers were treated with progesterone were significantly less likely to describe themselves as heterosexual. One in every five (20.6 percent) of the progesterone- exposed participants labeled themselves as other than heterosexual. Compared to the untreated group, the chances were greater that by their mid-20s they had already engaged in some form of same-sex sexual behavior (in up to 24.2 percent of cases), and that they were attracted to the same (29.4 percent) or to both sexes (17.6 percent). Both exposed males and females also had higher scores related to attraction to men.

"Progesterone exposure was found to be related to increased non-heterosexual self-identification, attraction to the same or both sexes, and same-sex sexual behavior," says Reinisch. "The findings highlight the likelihood that prenatal exposure to progesterone may have a long-term influence on behavior related to sexuality in humans."

The research team believes further studies on the offspring of women medically treated with progesterone and other progestogens during their pregnancies as well as studies examining the effects of natural variation in prenatal progesterone levels are warranted to provide more insight into the role that this hormone plays in the development of human behavior.
-end-
Reference: Reinisch, J.M. et al. (2017). Prenatal Exposure to Progesterone Affects Sexual Orientation in Humans, Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-016-0923-z

Springer

Related Progesterone Articles:

Human pregnancy is weird -- new research adds to the mystery
University at Buffalo and University of Chicago scientists set out to investigate the evolution of a gene that helps women stay pregnant: the progesterone receptor gene.
Giving some pregnant women progesterone could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year -- experts
Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research say giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage could lead to 8,450 more babies being born each year.
Progesterone from an unexpected source may affect miscarriage risk
Progesterone signaling is key to a healthy pregnancy. An Austrian team's research suggests a link between recurrent miscarriage and disrupted progesterone synthesis.
First of its kind study seeks to answer whether effects of 'abortion pill' can be reversed
Women who initiate medical abortion but opt to stop in the middle of treatment may be at risk for serious blood loss, a UC Davis Health study finds.
Progesterone could increase births in women with early pregnancy bleeding and previous miscarriage
Research led by the University of Birmingham suggests that giving progesterone to pregnant women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage could increase their chances of having a baby.
New study proves for the first time that intestinal bacteria grow in pregnant women
In a new study, published in Cell Reports, researchers at the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University found that progesterone regulates the microbial composition during pregnancy in a way that may facilitate appropriate transmission of beneficial species to the newborn.
Genetic variation in progesterone receptor tied to prematurity risk, study finds
Humans have unexpectedly high genetic variation in the receptor for a key pregnancy-maintaining hormone, according to research led by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Oral micronized progesterone may decrease perimenopausal hot flashes, night sweats
Oral micronized progesterone (OMP) may diminish hot flashes and night sweats in perimenopausal women, new research from Canada reports.
New study out of WSU further supports use of progesterone to fight preterm birth
A new study published today -- World Prematurity Day -- in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology provides additional support for treatment with vaginal progesterone to reduce the risk of preterm birth, neonatal complications and infant death in pregnant women with a short cervix.
Vaginal progesterone reduces preterm birth and neonatal complications in women with a mid-trimester short cervix
Prematurity is the main complication of pregnancy, and 15 million babies are born preterm worldwide each year.
More Progesterone News and Progesterone Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.