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Genes are strange little things that can tell us beautiful stories about ourselves. What color our eyes will be, how tall we’ll grow, maybe even how we could die. But a new study is telling us that genes might be able to predict when we lose our virginity. The age old nurture vs. nature debate just got a bit more interesting.


A new study has identified genes that scientists believe play a role in when we start to have sex.

“Scientists identified 38 gene variants that play a role in the age when people first have sex. Not all of them are specifically puberty-associated — several are known for influencing personality traits. Genes that made people more likely to take risks, for example, might also make them likelier to have sex at a younger age. In women, some of the genes also seemed to have an effect on when they had their first baby. The researchers then performed a statistical analysis of all the genetic variants and found that people who hit puberty earlier are more likely to also have sex earlier and have kids earlier.” [The Verge]

How and when our puberty clock strikes could be a factor in all sorts of things including when certain diseases might strike. These studies will help doctors to find and treat illness earlier. But not every scientist thinks all this is exciting news. Mary Hediger, whose studied children for decades thinks we should all take a deep breath before taking these numbers as predictors of sexual activity:

“[Hediger] … warns against studies that point to genetic factors influencing sexual behavior. Though genes are undoubtedly important, when it comes to losing your virginity and becoming pregnant, the social, economic, and cultural factors can’t be overlooked. ‘The kind of biological determinism makes me a bit uncomfortable,’ Hediger says. ‘It sort of gives you the impression — and a lot of these genetics studies sort of do that — that you’re more your biology than you are a product of your environment. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re doomed, your biology dooms you.'”

Perhaps biology plays a bigger role than we thought but doesn’t paint the full picture. Studies like these do make us think though.

h/t The Verge