Fertility in Men exposed prenatally to DiEthylStilbestrol

DiEthylStilbestrol usage review buttress the need for adequate and rigorous research into the use of drugs in pregnancy and ensure that they do more good than harm before being introduced


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In that 1995 study, DES sons with genital malformations were nonetheless as fertile as other men.

Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol causes infertility in male mice and has been associated with malformations of the genital tract in men. However, little is known about the fertility of men who have been exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol.
In 1950 through 1952, 1646 pregnant women were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of diethylstilbestrol at Chicago Lying-in Hospital. We interviewed men who were born to the women during that study about their fertility.
Four decades after their birth, we were able to trace 548 of the surviving sons (68 percent). Ninety percent consented to be interviewed (253 who had been exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero and 241 who had not been exposed). Congenital malformations of the genitalia were reported three times as often by the diethylstilbestrol-exposed men as by the sons of the women in the placebo group. Within the exposed group, malformations were reported twice as often among those exposed to diethylstilbestrol before the 11th week of gestation as among those exposed later (P = 0.05). Men with genital malformations were nonetheless as fertile as other men. The diethylstilbestrol-exposed men (with or without genital malformations) had no impairment of fertility by any measure, including whether they had ever impregnated a women, age at the birth of their first child, average number of children, medical diagnosis of a fertility problem, or length of time to conception in the most recent pregnancy of the female partner. Finally, diethylstilbestrol-exposed men had no impairment of sexual function, as indicated, for example, by the frequency of intercourse or reported episodes of decreased libido.
High doses of diethylstilbestrol did not lead to impairment of fertility or sexual function in adult men who had been exposed to the drug in utero.


  • Fertility in men exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol, NCBI, PMID: 7723797, ;332(21):1411-6, 1995 May 25.
  • Full text – New England Journal of Medicine 1995; 332:1411-1416, DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199505253322104, May 25, 1995.
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4 thoughts on “Fertility in Men exposed prenatally to DiEthylStilbestrol”

  1. Did they do any analysis of sperm count or quality? There isn’t any mention of them having done so in the Methods section. It looks like all they’ve done is asked the participants a few questions, and then based their findings on the answers. Studies which included semen analysis have found considerably higher rates than normal of abnormal sperm among DES sons.

    In this study:
    J Reprod Med. 1976 Apr;16(4):147-53. Structural and functional abnormalities in the sex organs of male offspring of mothers treated with diethylstilbestrol (DES).
    …Spermatozoa analyses revealed severely pathologic changes (Eliasson score greater than 10) in 29% of 28 DES-exposed males and 0% of 18 control males (with or without genital i.e., physical abnormalities). …

    In this study:
    J Urol. 1977 Apr;117(4):477-80. Pathological semen and anatomical abnormalities of the genital tract in human male subjects exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero.
    …Spermatozoal analysis revealed severe pathological changes (Eliasson score more than 10) in 32 per cent of 31 patients exposed to diethylstilbestrol and 0 per cent of 20 male controls. …

    In this study:
    J Urol. 1979 Jul;122(1):36-9. Association of diethylstilbestrol exposure in utero with cryptorchidism, testicular hypoplasia and semen abnormalities.
    …Analyses of the spermatozoa have revealed severe pathological changes (Eliasson score greater than 10) in 134 diethylstilbestrol-exposed men (18 per cent) and 87 placebo-exposed men (8 per cent).

  2. For those who are inclined to pursue the meaning and importance of EPITGENETIC TRANS GENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTION you will find that it is precisely these “fertile’ mean whose sperm carries with it proteins and mRNA which succeed in passing along DES and other conditions to two more generations of offspring This study was conducted in a period of ignorance…and in fact their sperm if available still somewhere would show that it was responsible for creating DES children and grandchildren.

    Honestly it is crucial that the DES sons and daughters come to understand how this epigenetic endocrine disruption occurs…otherwise you are just spinning your wheels… Please become acquainted with it…

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