Apparently Abstinence From Sex Is Good For Longevity, At Least Among Reptiles, Claims Research

Concerned parents have always cautioned their teenage kids with raging hormones to abstain from sex. They felt saying no is beneficial to the kid. A new research seems to suggest that in the reptile world, refraining from having sex during the early years can extend your life-span.

According to a new study, reptiles that have sex early on in their lives and quite frequently, besides feasting regularly on meat, tend to "live fast, die young." A team of researchers closely examined longevity in scaled reptiles (Lepidosaurs). They looked at 1,014 species, including 672 lizards, 336 snakes, five worm lizards and a lizardlike creature called a tuatara.

The scientists found that the reptiles were more likely to die at young ages if they reached sexual maturation earlier and laid eggs or gave birth more times than their counterparts did. Speaking about the unusual linkage between sexual activity and longevity, researcher Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

"We observed that more sex (or at least more pregnancies) means shorter life. The study revealed that reptiles [that] sexually mature at a younger age will likely have shorter lives, while those who prefer to delay sexual maturity will probably live longer."
Interestingly, proving the Hindu way of life is indeed beneficial, consuming only vegetarian food proved to have a positive effect on life as well, continued Pincheira-Donoso.
"Vegetal food is an intrinsically low-nutrition food, so we think that those who have these diets experience a reduction in reproductive rates, which in turn increases their lifespan."
Apart from the connection between sex and lifespan, the research also found that small herbivorous and omnivorous reptiles also lived longer than similarly sized carnivorous reptiles, reported the University Of Lincoln.

In essence, the results strongly suggest that vegetarian male and female reptiles that choose to wait until they are older to have offspring and reproduce more slowly, tend to live longer lives than their counterparts, who indulge in sex and meat, reported Fox News. Scientists are hoping their findings support key predictions about longevity and life-history theory, the study of how natural selection influences life events, such as juvenile development and age of sexual maturity.

To put a dampener on the otherwise positive perspective of refraining from sex improving lifespan, the researchers suggested reptiles that lived the longest tended to have "slow" traits. Meaning, the longer-living species had delayed reproduction cycles, fewer number of babies, smaller clutch sizes, relatively larger individual hatchlings and colder body temperatures compared to their reptile peers that lived shorter lives.

As for the meat-eating part, it just makes sense after looking at the reproductive cycles of snakes that have a lot shorter lifespans than herbivores that ate a lot less protein- and nutrient-rich food, leading them to reach maturity later in life and live longer.

[Image Credit | Dan Chung]