STUDY: Genes Influence When You First Have Sex

STUDY: Genes Influence When You First Have Sex

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Why we’re covering this: We’re endlessly obsessed with sexual research (in case you haven’t noticed), in part because it regularly upends the conservative traditional ideas we have about human sexuality.

Researchers in Cambridge, Boston and Reykjavik have discovered 38 locations on the human genome that influence the age when people lose their virginity. The locations affect various factors such as how early puberty strikes, when sex hormones get released, a person propensity for risk-taking, irritability, nervousness and other “personality and appearance” factors that determine one’s fuckability (though that’s not a scientific term). The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers looked at the DNA of over 125,000 people enrolled in the UK BioBank project — a huge repository of human genetic and other health information. Researchers then compared their findings against the information of 250,000 additional people from Iceland and the US.

They concluded that genetics play about a 25 percent role in determining when someone first has sex; the rest is determined by nurture, including one’s family background, peer group, religious beliefs and availability of sexual partners and places.

The Guardian explains deeper:

George Davey Smith, a clinical epidemiologist at Bristol University, said: “[The reaserch] suggests that earlier puberty does influence early age of sexual debut, which then appears to have other consequences such as, all things being equal, earlier first birth, having more children, less likely to remain childless, and poorer educational outcomes.” While early puberty has been linked to poor educational achievement before, he said, the latest study strengthened the evidence that early puberty was a cause, and not simply a reflection of underlying factors, such as social class.

It’s both interesting and troubling to think that genetics play an active role in determining one’s class and wealth — it’s very Gattaca. But it’s no wonder that people who are capable of having children sometimes do so before their minds can fully grasp the lifelong investment it requires. 

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