Editor’s Note: Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.
Our genes play a role in many aspects of our sexual lives
Genes are linked to when you lose your virginity, when you have children and how many
Genes behind risk-taking, irritability found to be linked to the age someone first has sex
How old were you when you lost your virginity? Or maybe you haven’t reached that point yet.
Either way, whether you’re 16 or 40 when you decide to have sex for the first time, you may think the choice comes down to your partner, the people around you and the environment you are exposed to. That’s part of it – but scientists are increasingly realizing that your genes also have something to do with it.
Your genetic coding helps define the timing of that milestone moment, as well as when you first have children – and how many you have – as well as your actual functioning during sex.
“It’s clear genes are an important factor,” said John Perry, a geneticist at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. “People think it’s all choice-driven.”
But it’s not.
Perry acknowledges that factors such as social environment, family structure, peer pressure, culture and religious influences can all affect the age when someone starts having sex. “You don’t need to be a scientist to know that,” he said. But he believes that these behaviors have an underlying heritability.