The impact of phytoestrogens on sexual behavior and cognition in rodents


Phytoestrogens have the potential to influence the effects of other endocrine active-compounds by altering an individual's reproductive development, sexual behaviors, and performance on cognitive tasks. Thus, the following literature review focuses on studies involving the effects that dietary phytoestrogens have on the reproductive behaviors and cognitive abilities of rodents. We found that the bulk of the literature that focused on the cognitive abilities and reproductive behavior of individuals exposed to dietary phytoestrogens does not provide a clear pattern of their effects. We suggest that the mixed results of many studies may be attributed to differences in the type of phytoestrogen administered, the length of time of its administration, the amount or phytoestrogen, the species tested, the sex and hormonal milieu of the subjects, if the exposure to phytoestrogens occurred during gestation, lactation, or adulthood, and if the subject is an herbivore or omnivore. Based on our review, we have provided information that is needed to formulate several testable hypotheses about the effects of phytoestrogens on sexual behaviors and cognitive abilities in rodent species.

Publication Title

Mammalian Biology