(Newser) - An unbelievable-sounding new study finds that one in 200 young American women claims to have experienced a virgin pregnancy, à la the Virgin Mary.
The US researchers looked into a long-term, confidential study about reproductive health, and found that 45 of the 7,870 women involved said they had become pregnant without ever having had vaginal intercourse or going through in-vitro fertilization, AFP reports. Of those, 31% had made a "chastity pledge" of the type popular among Christian groups. The research was published in the British Medical Journal.
A lead author explains: The subjects "weren't asked a question 'Have you had a virgin pregnancy?'" Rather, the findings were "put together from a series of questions about pregnancy history and vaginal intercourse history." She adds that it's possible some of the women "did not want to admit that they had intercourse," or perhaps misunderstood the questions, seeing as the results are rather "unrealistic."
She adds: "We actually found a few virgin fathers as well-which is a little harder to get your head around." LiveScience points out that the study's real finding is the problems inherent in researching sensitive information: "Scientists may still face challenges when collecting self-reported data on sensitive topics," despite taking precautions.