The Effects of Sex Steroids in Humans

Jacques Balthazart

in The Biology of Homosexuality

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199838820
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919512 | DOI:
The Effects of Sex Steroids in Humans

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This chapter argues that sexual motivation in humans and animals is essentially the result of the action of sex steroids on the brain and in particular on preoptic, hypothalamic, and limbic (amygdala) regions. Philosophical or social contingencies have an important role in determining whether the individual will adopt a behavior in agreement with this motivation. Religious or social prohibitions can, for example, prevent an individual from having an extra-marital relationship. Here cortical activity takes precedence over the impulse originating in hypothalamic or limbic areas, but the motivation remains. Innumerable literary works examine the conflict between the sex drive and social prohibitions consciously managed by the cortex. This motivation is also modulated by many other factors (e.g., lack of sexual desire in a situation of stress), but the main determinant remains hormones in humans and animals. Many arguments support this thesis.

Keywords: sex steroids; sexual behavior; sexual orientation; hormones; extra-marital relationship

Chapter.  3596 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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