Evidence suggests that psychosexuality in humans is modulated by both organizational effects of prenatal and peripubertal sex steroid hormones, and by activational effects of circulating hormones in adulthood. Experimental work in male rodents indicates that sensitivity to androgen-driven organization of sexual motivation decreases across the pubertal window, such that earlier puberty leads to greater sex-typicality. We test this hypothesis in typically developing men (n = 231) and women (n = 648), and in men (n = 72) and women (n = 32) with isolated GnRH deficiency (IGD), in whom the precise timing of peripubertal hormone exposure can be ascertained via the age at which hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was initiated. Psychosexuality was measured with the Sexual Desire Inventory-2 (SDI-2) and Sociosexual Orientation Inventory-Revised (SOI-R). In both sexes, earlier recalled absolute pubertal timing predicted higher psychosexuality in adulthood, although the magnitude of these associations varied with psychosexuality type and group (i.e., typically developing and IGD). Results were robust when controlling for circulating steroid hormones in typically developing participants. Age of initiation of HRT in men with IGD negatively predicted SOI-R. We discuss the clinical implications of our findings for conditions in which pubertal timing is medically altered.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry