Sexual Touch At An Early Age May Lead To Early Puberty
German researchers found that women who were touched on their genitals at a young age experience changes in their brain and that touch triggers puberty.
Early sexual experience may lead to early puberty
- Girls who are sexually touched at an early age hit puberty faster
- Inappropriate form of intimacy may have a lasting impact on the brain
- Expansion of genital cortex is not accelerated by hormones
Research shows that girls who are sexually touched at an early age hit puberty faster than other girls who are not exposed to the same until a later age. This is a small part of a broader investigation which focused on determining what effect an early sexual experience has on puberty. German researchers found that women who were touched on their genitals at a young age experience changes in their brain and that touch triggers puberty. Also, they warned that inappropriate form of intimacy may have a lasting impact on the brain.
Prof Michael Brecht of Humboldt University in Berlin explained this.
He said, "Sexual touch is strictly regulated in most human cultures and this is particularly true during development. It has also become painfully clear that sexual abuse and inappropriate sexual contact during development have long-lasting detrimental consequences. Presumably the long-lasting problems from inappropriate sexual contact during development reflect brain changes resulting from sexual experience. Remarkably, structural brain imaging in humans with a history of sexual abuse identified a thinning of putative human genital cortex, as a cortical consequence of childhood sexual abuse."
Professor Brecht worked with PhD student Constanze Lenschow to understand the beginning phases of puberty. For starters, the study did confirm the expected that sexual hormones trigger puberty and growth of a genital cortex.
But what's new is they have found that sexual touch also promotes an early puberty. For this, young female rats were put together with male rates and the results showed an expansion of the genital cortex. But when the male rats were separated, this didn't happen because direct contact was hampered. The same expansion, however, was noticed when the female rats' genitals were touch with a lubricated brush artificially.
Lenschow said: 'The effects of sexual touch on puberty and the genital cortex are remarkable since you wouldn't expect this area of the brain to expand at this stage of development.'
This meant that the expansion of genital cortex is not accelerated by hormones but also by means of sexual touch.
Prof Brecht added: 'The representation of the body changes in the cerebral cortex and in particular the genital cortex doubles in size. Our results help to understand why the perception of our body changes so much during puberty.'
Puberty is not just a matter of hormones it is also determined by sexual experiences. This study was published in the journal PLOS Biology.
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