DES Sons: Research Trends 1959-2023

May 2023 Update


This page is based on research with an emphasis on DES Sons published between 1973 and 2023. DES Sons are persons born male who were born to mothers who were treated with the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriage.

It is estimated that between 200,000 and 1.5 million males born in the U.S. between 1947 and 1971 were DES-exposed. DES Sons were also born in Canada, Europe and Australia, but reliable statistics are unavailable.

DES Sons have often been referred to as “the forgotten piece of the jigsaw.” There were as many DES Sons as DES Daughters born in the U.S. during the prime period of late 1940s to early 1970s, but far less research and advocacy on behalf of DES Sons has occurred over the years. Nearly 90% of the primary research on the human health effects of DES has been limited to DES Daughters and most of the public health research, education and advocacy has centered around concerns of DES Daughters only.

Primary documented health effects in DES Sons

The most common cited effects of prenatal DES exposure in persons born male include:

* Cryptorchidism–Extremely small testes and/or undescended testes
* Epididymal cysts–Benign cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that feel like small lumps
* Hypospadias–Opening of the penis is in the wrong place, often corrected with surgery
* Microphallus–Increased risk for a smaller than average penis
* Testicular Variocoeles–Irregularly swollen or varicose vein on the testicle
* Infertility–Potential for increased risk of infertility in DES Sons as they age
* Testicular Cancer Risk–To date, testicular cancer has not been directly attributed to DES exposure, but this is an area of ongoing concern
* Hypogonadism (Testosterone deficiency, in primary or secondary form–low LH and FSH levels included)
* Cardiovascular Disease
* Diabetes
* Osteoporosis
* Hypertension
* Psychological and psychiatric effects
* Sexuality and gender identity effects

My Ongoing Research with DES Sons

My own research for nearly the past 30 years has focused on assessing the range of health, medical, and psychosexual and psychiatric issues raised by members of the DES Sons International Network (N=1000), and is discussed in more detail in this separate page: Academic Research Into Prenatal Hormonal Influences on Gender and Sexual Development


Journal References 1959-2023


>> Return to

%d bloggers like this: