This web page was produced as an assignment for an undergraduate course at Davidson College.
For decades society has been concerned with the age of first intercourse, and now, according to recent studies, there may be a contributing genetic factor (Callaway, 2009). As seen in the graph below, the percentage of teenagers, in 2002, participating in intercourse is alarmingly high and therefore is a pressing issue in society. These extremely high numbers along with high teen pregnancy and STD rates are among the myraid of factors that have spurred scientists of all types to explore factors that influence what can be termed as “sexual precociousness.”
Figure 1: This graph represents the percentage of individuals in the United States in 2002 that participated in sexual intercourse divided by gender and age.
In March of 2009 ABC News published an article claiming that recent studies found a genetic link to the time at which an individual first participates in intercourse. If this is not a bold statement, then the title, “Genes May Time Loss of Virginity,” certainly is (Callaway, 2009). Although this was the first documented public reveal of such a genetic link, research exploring the possible correlation between age of virginity loss and our genes has been going on for decades. The timing of such a reveal may have to do with the public's increasing interest in the Human Genome and the many recent genes being discovered and popularly named, such as the "God gene," "skinny gene," and "fat gene."
Table 1: The table above outlines past research that explored the genetic link between age and loss of virginity. The proportions displayed are what the relative researchers found were the "heritability estimates for the age of first intercourse" (Segal et al., 2009).
The following webpage explores the current and threatening problem of relating new scientific research, specifically the "sexual precociousness" gene, to the public.
The links at the top of this page take you through a comprehensive outline of the actual research and the missing links in the article addressed to the public.