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The women who have children who swear they've never had sex. Confused? Us too.

45 women had babies but were still virgins

It is quite an appropriate study to come out at Christmas.

Mary being the first and all…

Because you see it seems that nearly one percent of young women who have become pregnant claim to have done so as virgins.

Yes, you read that right. Virgin births.

An American study has found that of 7,870 women aged 15 to 28 interviewed more than 0.5 per cent of them who said they were virgins had also given birth.

As soon as you read that you think IVF-technology-marvelous-advances-they-have-made.

But no. This is WITHOUT IVF.

The researchers also found that the mothers in question were more likely to have boys than girls.

And to be pregnant during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

(No mangers were mentioned and yes – the only wise men around turned into blubbering idiots at the sight of childbirth)

But this isn’t a gag.

The women were part of the long-running National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, according to a report in the Christmas edition of the BMJ. 

The girls were 12 to 18 years old when they entered the study in the 1994-95 school year and were interviewed over 14 years about their health and behavior.

Based on interviews with the women, 45 of the pregnancies in this group through the years occurred in women who reported that they conceived without a man being involved.

The Medical Daily reports that the lead researcher Amy Herring devised a way to keep the answers from the women honest:

Herring and her colleagues set up an experiment where subjects were able to reply candidly to both computer-generated self-interviews and audio computer-generated self-interviews when asked about their sexual history. The team didn’t explicitly ask about virgin pregnancy. Instead, they used the subjects’ replies to create a rough timeline of when they began having sexual intercourse and at which point they became pregnant. The median age at which virgins reportedly gave birth was 19.3 years.

But the glaringly obviously question is how?

They also had mainly boys around December

Whilst virgin births can take place in nature as far as we know (well aside from Mary right?) it is strictly a shark, komodo dragon and scorpion domain.

For these women it turns out to have nothing to do with medical marvels and all about what seems to be innocent self-deception, a lack of information, and self denial.

Of the 45 women who became pregnant despite claiming to be virgins, 31 per cent said they had signed chastity pledges.

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant (and the 36 who gave birth) were also more likely than non-virgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control.

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About 28 per cent of the ‘virgin’ mothers’ parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn’t have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, and were less likely to know how to use condoms.

Herring told the Medical Daily that “signing a chastity pledge has been shown to be related to religious faith and other cultural mores valuing virginity,” referring to the potential for women to essentially cover up their pregnancy with their faith, in order to protect their pledge, “though we have no way of knowing for sure.”

The purity movement gained popularity in the US in the 1980’s in one part in response to the AIDS campaign.

Peter Bearman a sociologist of Columbia University undertook the largest, most comprehensive survey of adolescent health ever taken. He estimates that one in six Americans between the ages of 12 and 28 has taken a purity pledge.

31% had signed chastity pledges

The problem is, he told the Oprah Magazine, “88 percent of pledgers wind up breaking their promise. And you can’t take a purity pledge and carry a condom in your pocket,”

“From what we can tell, pledgers have fewer partners than nonpledgers and they are sexually active for a shorter period of time; however, their STD rates are statistically the same as nonpledgers. Pledgers are much more likely than nonpledgers to engage in substitutional sex—including acts that may put them at higher risk for STDs, such as oral and anal sex. ”

Researchers say that this latest study shows the difficulties in getting accurate data about people’s sex lives.

Amy Herring told Agence France-Presse “even though we thought that the questions were quite clear, there’s still the possibility that some women misunderstood or misinterpreted them, such as simply giving the wrong year, or for whatever reason that they did not want to admit that they’d had intercourse,” Herring said.

“Even though we used technology to try to enhance the candor of respondents, we still see responses that are unrealistic,” she said.

“In fact we went back a few weeks ago to see if this was a phenomenon that was confined only to the women, and we actually found a few virgin fathers as well – which is a little harder to get your head around.”

Not sure what the wise men would make of that.

What do you think of this phenomenon of the “virgin birth”?

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