How and when someone loses their virginity can be influences by a number of factors, including peer pressure, culture, parental influence, religion, opportunity, and even being forced against one’s will. Now, researches also contend that one’s genes may also influence the “timing” of the “rite of passage”.
According to British geneticists, led by John Perry of Cambridge University, DNA differences found in the genomes could account for 25% of the different scenarios in which each had their first sexual experiences. The data was based on the DNA from 125,000 people aged 40- 69 enrolled on the UK BioBank project, as well as 250,000 others from the US and Iceland. The most common age among both men and women was found to be 18.
In fact, the researchers stated that they had actually identified 38 sections of DNA involved in the “milestone.”
Among these were variations in genes that direct reproductive biology, such as the release of sex hormones and the onset age of puberty, as well as those effecting personality and behavior. In addition, Perry an expert in reproductive ageing and related health conditions, reported that genes named CADM2 were tied to risk-taking were associated with loss of virginity at younger ages and producing a large number of babies.
On the other hand, a variant of the gene known as MSRA, (associated with irritability) was uncovered in both males and females who put off having sex, which he stated “may not be such a bad thing,” since initial sexual experiences and 1st childbirth at (relatively) young ages.
“This helps to inform us about future preventative efforts to delay puberty in young children,” Perry said.
Meanwhile, George Davey Smith, a clinical epidemiologist at Bristol University, further underlines the importance of the study by stating that, “While early puberty has been linked to poor educational achievement before, the latest study strengthened the evidence that early puberty was a cause, and not simply a reflection of underlying factors, such as social class.”
In addition, Ewan Birney, co-director of the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge opined that Perry’s study’s use of genetic calculations provided a means for scientists to “better untangle cause and consequence of a complex human behavior. Although genetics only contributes a small part to age of first sexual intercourse, the very random nature of each person’s genome means it can be used to trace the impact of this behavior into later life with less concern about complex correlations confusing cause and consequence.”
Interestingly, the scientists mentioned another genetic variant that seemed to link red hair color and freckled skin with women (but not men), losing their virginity later than others in their report published in the journal Nature Genetics.