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Sex differences in partner preferences in humans and animals.

By Jacques Balthazart


A large number of morphological, physiological and behavioural traits are differentially expressed by males and females in all vertebrates including humans. These sex differences, sometimes, reflect the different hormonal environment of the adults, but they often remain present after subjects of both sexes are placed in the same endocrine conditions following gonadectomy associated or not with hormonal replacement therapy. They are then the result of combined influences of organizational actions of sex steroids acting early during development, or genetic differences between the sexes, or epigenetic mechanisms differentially affecting males and females. Sexual partner preference is a sexually differentiated behavioural trait that is clearly controlled in animals by the same type of mechanisms. This is also probably true in humans, even if critical experiments that would be needed to obtain scientific proof of this assertion are often impossible for pragmatic or ethical reasons. Clinical, epidemiological and correlative studies provide, however, converging evidence strongly suggesting, if not demonstrating, that endocrine, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms acting during the pre- or perinatal life control human sexual orientation, i.e. homosexuality versus heterosexuality. Whether they interact with postnatal psychosexual influences remains, however, unclear at present.Peer reviewe

Topics: epigenetic controls, homosexuality, organizing effects of steroids, sexual orientation, sexual partner preference, Human health sciences :: Endocrinology, metabolism & nutrition, Sciences de la santé humaine :: Endocrinologie, métabolisme & nutrition, Social & behavioral sciences, psychology :: Neurosciences & behavior, Sciences sociales & comportementales, psychologie :: Neurosciences & comportement
Year: 2016
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