- HERSHEY, Pa. (Reuters) - The surge of hormones that turns awkward adolescents
into young men and women may not be as important as peer pressure in determining
teen sexual behavior, medical researchers suggested Tuesday.
- A four-year study by the Penn State College
of Medicine found that extra doses of the male hormone testosterone and
the female hormone estrogen had little or no effect on adolescent behavior
when given to teens suffering from delayed puberty. ``This data certainly
disagrees with the common perception of millions of parents over the years.
To say that behaviors of adolescents are being mediated simply by increasing
hormone levels is not correct,'' said Dr. Howard Kulin, a pediatrician
who led the study.
- ``There may be small sex hormone effects.
But we know that social factors such as peer pressure probably have a much
larger impact.'' In the first study of its kind to measure the effects
of hormones on adolescent sexual behavior, Kulin's team treated 55 adolescents
ranging in age from 13 to 18 by alternating three-month doses of sex hormones
with three-month doses of placebos.
- The treatment programs lasted 21 months.
Researchers saw no rise in the frequency of significant sexual behavior
such as masturbation, sexual intercourse and petting during hormone-dose
- Hormones did produce some effects, however.
Boys tended to have more nocturnal emissions, or wet dreams, and were more
likely to display ``touching behaviors.'' Girls kissed more. The study
results were published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology
- Kulin and his team also investigated
the effect of hormones on adolescent aggression, cognition and mood swings,
but not all those studies have been published.