Scientists have found 38 regions of DNA which correlate with the age at which people first have sex.

As Biological Sciences applicants will be aware, the correlation between genetics and variation is strong in different attributes of humans. When considering height, for example, genes account for 80% of the variation with only 20% accounted for by environmental factors.

When studying virginity, scientists found that genes accounted for 25% of the variation, meaning that other factors have much more influence than genetics. The study is useful, however, in noting that genetics has as strong an influence as it does. One of the genes, CADM2, is a molecule involved in ‘nerve signalling’, and the so-called ‘early-sex variant’ of CADM2 is linked with riskier behaviour and poorer mental abilities such as attention.

HSPS applicants should consider how the age at which people first have sex can correlate to socio-economic class, cultural norms, and geographical factors such as living in urban areas versus rural areas. Law applicants should think similarly about how global variations in the age of consent correlate with the age at which people first have sex.

Finally, students applying for Natural Sciences (B) or Medicine should think about how improved nutrition and general health of populations over the past century has led to decreased ages of puberty, and how this may impact the age at which people become sexually active.

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