It’s a miracle! 1 in 200 American women say they got pregnant while still a virgin

An unusual study in the British Medical Journal’s annual Christmas edition suggests that as many as 1 in every 200 American women claim to have gotten pregnant while still a virgin.

The report comes from interviews with 7,870 women and girls, ages 15 to 28, as part of the nationally representative, multiethnic National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Of the 5,340 pregnancies reported by this group from 1995 until now, 45 women say they got pregnant despite never having had sex.

Unsurprisingly, compared to the rest of the test subjects, these 45 women were found to be more likely to be religious, and also more likely to have taken a “virginity pledge.” They were also less likely to have parents who discussed sex and birth control with them.

Via BMJ:

Main outcome measures Self reports of pregnancy and birth without sexual intercourse.

Results 45 women (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology. Although it was rare for dates of sexual initiation and pregnancy consistent with virgin pregnancy to be reported, it was more common among women who signed chastity pledges or whose parents indicated lower levels of communication with their children about sex and birth control.

Conclusions Around 0.5% of women consistently affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births. Even with numerous enhancements and safeguards to optimize reporting accuracy, researchers may still face challenges in the collection and analysis of self reported data on potentially sensitive topics.

Interestingly, most of these reports occurred in and around the Christmas season. Also, the majority of these women gave birth to boys rather than girls. Of course, if actual parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction) had occurred, there would only be female babies, because you need a father for there to be an X chromosome. I mean, unless it is, in fact, a miracle. While parthenogenesis is possible for certain types of animals, it does not occur in human reproduction. Although scientists have mimicked the process to create stem cells, a full on, asexually reproduced human baby has yet to be born.

Here’s the thing: while highly unlikely, it is technically possible for a woman to become pregnant without having standard P-in-V sex. Sperm can live outside the body for up to a few hours. If a man were to get some ejaculate on his hands and then digitally penetrate his partner, there is actually a small chance that she could get pregnant.

Barring that, however, it is not as though any sperm are going to jump up off the sheets, fly into the woman’s vagina and then travel all the way to her cervix and up her Fallopian tubes.  By that same token, one cannot get pregnant from a toilet seat or a swimming pool. That is definitely not happening. While sperm are pretty good little swimmers, they are not teeny Michael Phelpses.

It should also be noted that STIs can of course be transmitted by means other than standard penis-in-vagina as well. While “saddle-backing” may keep you pure in the eyes of the Lord, it ain’t gonna save you from herpes.

Now, is it possible that all 45 women in the study became pregnant in this manner? Maybe, but it’s pretty unlikely. I would say the results are a combination of this, a lack of comprehensive sexual education resulting in these kids having barely any idea what sex is in the first place (probably assuming it involves having a boy pee in your belly button or some such), and the belief that one needs to remain a virgin until marriage or risk eternal damnation. Oh, and also lying. There are also lying liars in the world.

If anything, this study highlights the need for comprehensive sexual education in this country. It’s disappointing– and while I realize that some think that if we just don’t tell kids anything about sex at all, they’ll wait until they’re married to have it– that doesn’t seem to be working out so very well. I wish that we valued teaching kids how to take care of their sexual health more than we valued their chastity.