Does Preterm Birth Affect Psychosexual Development? A Preliminary Exploration

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International Journal of Sexual Health


Infants born prematurely may lack full term exposure to the prenatal milieu responsible for late-term sexual differentiation, with possible consequences on psychosexual development. This study assessed gender identity, sexual orientation, and adult sexual responses in men and women born either preterm or full term. An online survey was administered to 106 biological males (36 preterm) and 195 biological females (64 preterm). Preterm women identified less exclusively as heterosexual and preterm men reported higher sex interest and shorter orgasmic latency. Preterm birth may interfere with typical prenatal sexual differentiation, with potential effects on sexual orientation and adult sexual responsivity.