Maggie Fox, NBC News, April 18, 2016
British researchers say they may have found a gene that influences people to lose their virginity early.
While no single genetic variation can completely affect behavior, the team of British researchers says the gene pattern they’ve found can account for a significant amount of the difference in when people have sex for the first time.
And the same genes are associated not only with risk-taking behavior, but with how many children people end up having and how grumpy they are, the team reports in the journal Nature Genetics.
Overall, they linked 38 different genes to age at first sexual intercourse.
“While social and cultural factors are clearly relevant, we show that age at first sexual intercourse is also influenced by genes which act on the timing of childhood physical maturity and by genes which contribute to our natural differences in personality types,” said John Perry, a senior investigator at Britain’s Medical Research Council who was involved in the study.
“One example is a genetic variant in CADM2, a gene that controls brain cell connections and brain activity, which we found was associated with a greater likelihood of having a risk-taking personality, and with an earlier age at first sexual intercourse and higher lifetime number of children.”
“Genetic variants associated with timing of puberty–which has decreased from an average age of 18 years in 1880 to 12.5 years in 1980–in both men and women have been recently identified, and some studies have reported a correlation between puberty timing and age at first sex, suggesting that they may also be correlated at the genetic level,” the team wrote.
“Earlier puberty timing, in both men and women, is associated with greater propensity for risk-taking behaviors, lower educational attainment, greater susceptibility to several adverse health outcomes and, in women, increased mortality,” they added.