Peers And Society Pressure
Spur Teen Sex More
than Hormones
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 periods.
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 and Metabolism.
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.

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