Diethylstilboestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of oestrogen. It was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to women to ensure healthy pregnancies and prevent miscarriages. Use of DES declined in the 1960s after studies showed that it was not effective in preventing pregnancy complications.
While most people exposed to DES will not experience negative health effects, it has been associated with:
- an increased risk of birth defects
- an small increased risk of breast cancer, and some other cancers, in women exposed during pregnancy.
Follow the links below to find trusted information about DES.
Last reviewed: July 2016