Unraveling the intricate link between our sexual experiences and mental health has long fascinated researchers and with the landscape of sexual relationships having changed drastically in the last 15 years, it is more important than ever to look deeper. This especially holds true for sexual experiences those have as minors, and throughout their life. The researchers of a new study set out to explore the causal connection between major depressive disorder and two key factors: early sexual intercourse and the number of sexual partners.
The researchers took their data from the UK Biobank and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and only took data from the European population. From this dataset the researchers obtained genetic predictors for major depressive disorder, sexual factors and for five risky behaviors. The samples for each key factor were separated 406,457 for age at first sexual intercourse and 378,882 lifetime number of sexual partners.
The results were surprising but in line with current literature. The researchers found a compelling causal relationship from comprehensive data analysis between sexual behavior and major depressive disorder. The highlighted factors of the study—early sexual intercourse and a higher number of sexual partners — were found to significantly increase the risk of major depressive disorder. Importantly, these effects remained consistent across various analysis methods, lending weight to their significance. Remarkably, the analysis revealed that delaying the age at first sexual intercourse by a single year correlated with a notable 6% reduction in the risk of major depressive disorder, and 6% with each additional year. These compelling results shed new light on the intricate interplay between sexual experiences and mental well-being.
The results are compelling but do come with some limitations. These results are only generalizable to the European population. There also was no consideration for confounding variable that could influence the relationship between the key factors and major depressive disorder. Lastly the study realized on self-reported data, which is of course hard to know if that information is accurate or not.
Original article: https://www.psypost.org/2023/07/new-study-finds-a-causal-link-between-sexual-activity-early-in-life-and-major-depressive-disorder-166201