Effects of perinatal exposure to bisphenol A on sociosexual behavior of female and male rats

Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun;110 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):409-14. doi: 10.1289/ehp.02110s3409.


Perinatal action of estrogens or aromatizable steroids at the central nervous system level is responsible for brain sexual differentiation. Through early contact with the central nervous system, the estrogenic compound bisphenol A (BPA) could alter the processes affecting sociosexual behavior. To test this hypothesis, we studied agonistic and sexual behavior of adult female and male rats whose mothers were administered BPA (40 microg/kg/day) during pregnancy or lactation. An intruder test revealed in males but not in females an increase in defensive behavior due to BPA. We studied the effect of BPA on sexual behavior by testing sexual orientation and sexual activity. Male sexual orientation toward a stimulus female was not affected by BPA, whereas the sexual activity test revealed a slight impairment of sexual performance due to BPA in terms of latency and frequency of intromissions. In females, BPA produced a small increase in sexual motivation and receptive behavior. In conclusion, BPA administration, both during pregnancy and during lactation, does not masculinize female behavior or potentiate masculinization processes of males. On the contrary, we observed a potentiation of female behavior in females and a depotentiation of male behavior in males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Phenols / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Social Behavior*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A