Not exactly the Virgin Mary
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There's more than meets the eye with this one

You may not believe this, but there are actually still women who claim to be virgins... even during their pregnancies.

Apparently, the British Medical Journal is no stranger to, shall we say, rather controversial research studies. They have covered everything from James Bond's drinking habits to the tooth fairy, so I guess it should come as no surprise that last year, the science journal published some rather startling statistics on pregnancy.

The surprising part?

They examined pregnancies in women... who claimed to be virgins.

Let's explain

In order to perform the study, the research team didn't come right out and ask women if they gave birth via a miraculous conception, of course, nor did they ask them if they were virgins during their pregnancies. Instead, they asked them a detailed list of questions about their sexual activity and reproductive health in order to glean some quantifiable data. And that's where the results showed a few surprising twists.

Like a virgin

Unlike the Virgin Mary of the Catholic faith — who is really believed by the religion's followers to have maintained her virginity throughout the birth of Jesus Christ — the women in this study may have been simply confused about what actually being a virgin means.

"It would appear that 0.8 percent of the population of women in their study were somehow pregnant virgins."

According to the study, 5,340 women in the study reported having experienced a pregnancy during their lives, but a whopping 45 of those women also reported themselves as virgins when asked specifically about their sex lives. With those numbers, it would appear that 0.8 percent of the population of women in their study were somehow pregnant virgins. What's more, according to the study's concluding remarks, a survey that was representative of the entire U.S. population revealed that 0.5 percent of all U.S. mothers claimed to have had virgin pregnancies. And to make an important point here — none of the "virgins" reported using any type of reproductive technology to get pregnant, like IVF or artificial insemination.

So what's up?

Well, the short answer is, they aren't exactly sure. Moral beliefs and plain old-fashioned misunderstanding may both play a part in this reported phenomenon. The study cited other findings that reported that over 90 percent of Canadian teens described "sex" as intercourse with an orgasm, so researchers aren't sure if perhaps their participants defined "sex" as something similar — therefore, no orgasm means it didn't really count?

Personal beliefs were also found to have some bearing on the women who reported virgin pregnancies. The pregnant virgins were more likely to report having signed a chastity pledge (to remain abstinent before marriage) and be part of cultures that valued virginity before marriage. They also reported more lack of knowledge from their parents regarding sex, a claim backed up when researchers also surveyed the virgins' parents, who agree that communication levels between parents and child regarding sex were "low".

Age was also a factor — the women who reported the virgin pregnancies were younger than their non-virgin counterparts, with an average age of 19 years old.

So the next time you find yourself pregnant, go ahead and try out the old "still a virgin" claim — after all, you do have some scientific data to back you up.

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