Does losing your virginity early make you more of a sexual risk-taker later in life?
Numerous runs of the data led to the same conclusion: “You take two twins who share 100 percent of their genes. One has sex at 15 and one at 20. You compare them on risk-taking at 24—and they don’t differ.”
So why does someone end up sexually promiscuous? The researchers think it’s a combination of genetic factors—such as the strong inherited tendency to be impulsive or anti-social – and environmental ones, such as poverty or troubled family life.
Most important, though – biology and life experience both give rise to early sexual initiation and risk-taking later on. The former does not cause the latter. The psychologists aren’t advocating sex at a very early age; it very well might have other harmful effects on a teenager, such as depression or poor school performance. “But if our goal is to reduce sexual risk-taking, we need to be focusing on something else,” says Bornovalova. More study is needed to zero in on what that something else is. But for now, one thing should be clear to the people writing sex ed curricula: “Whatever is causing sexual risk-taking, it is not early sexual initiation.”