Everybody, don't have sex with any teenage hamsters. It totally messes up their brains.
According to LiveScience, "The uproar that followed a November episode of Fox's Glee in which two teen couples had sex for the first time may have some scientific legs. New research shows sex during the adolescent years could affect mood and brain development into adulthood." Oh shit hookup culture freakout mayday! Then there's this: "The study, which was carried out on hamsters" ... oh. Maybe back the freakout truck up just a bit.
Turns out, scientists took a group of male hamsters that were 40 days old (allegedly the equivalent of 16-20 people years), and another group aged 80 days (mature hamster men). They got both groups to mate with adult lady-hamsters, then studied the males' health and behavior at 120 days. The early-sexing hamsters were more depressed than the ones who waited — that is, they were more likely to quit swimming when placed in a pool of water, which is apparently a symptom of hamster depression. They also had less complexity in certain brain systems, "higher expression of a gene associated with inflammation," and smaller seminal vesicles (the size of their already teeny-tiny hamster balls was presumably unaffected). The news wasn't all bad — early-blooming hamsters also had better immune response than their 80-day bros.
Despite LiveScience's Glee lead, study coauthor Zachary Weil says the findings can't be directly applied to humans: "In no way do these data bear directly on the issue of teenage abstinence. Much more research needs to be done in both human and animal models to understand how these types of experiences translate into changes in mood and physiology." Really, the fact that hamsters seem more depressed if they have sex during their adolescence says little about whether teenagers need to keep their purity rings on. However, if you are attempting to breed championship swimming hamsters, this research is very important indeed.
Image via AlexKalashnikov/Shutterstock.com