Sex hormones in lesbian and heterosexual women

Jennifer Downey, Anke A. Ehrhardt, Mindy Schiffman, Inge Dyrenfurth, J. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The authors measured plasma testosterone (T), androstenedione (A), and cortisol (C) levels in seven lesbian and seven heterosexual women matched for age and socioeconomic status. In addition, psychiatric symptoms, physical activity levels, depression, subjective sense of stress, and sexual behavior variables were assessed. There were no significant differences in sex hormone levels between the two groups of women, who were also comparable in psychiatric symptom levels, depression, and self-perceived stress. Lesbian women reported significantly more current physical activity relative to peers. Other than the sexual orientation difference which was a prerequisite for entry into the study, there were virtually no significant differences in sexual behavior although lesbian women tended to have achieved psychosexual milestones at a younger age. We were not able to corroborate the finding of Gartrell, Loriaux, and Chase (1977) that lesbian women have higher T levels, possibly due to the fact that the two groups were closely matched on several behavioral variables potentially affecting testosterone levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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