Diethylstilbesterol is a synthetic hormone with estrogenic effects. From the late 30's it was prescribed to women with estrogen deficiency. It was also used in farming to caponise chickens and increase weight gain in livestock grown for meat. It was also prescribed to transsexuals, though its unwanted side-effects mean that it is not now used. Because was thought that spontaneous abortions were due to estrogen deficiency, it was prescribed to pregnant mothers.

At the end of the 'sixties, research showed that, not only did it not prevent unwanted terminations, it caused a great deal of damage to female fetuses. Many of the daughters grew up with deformities in their wombs, cervix or vagina, were infertile or had menstrual irregularities, and were at increased risk of developing cancer in their twenties. They were also susceptible to extreme depression and anxiety. It also sometimes produced genital abnormalities in boys.

See also Hormones in Context: Testosterone and Aggression.

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Bland, J., (2003) About Gender: Diethylstilbesterol
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Web page copyright 1998-2006 Derby TV/TS Group. Text copyright Jed Bland.
20.06.00 Last amended 19.05.03