PARIS – One in every 200 young American women claims to have become pregnant while still a virgin, according to researchers who trawled through a long-term study.
Out of 7,870 young women who took part in the confidential research, 45 — 0.5 percent — said they had conceived yet not had vaginal intercourse or in vitro fertilization, according to the paper, published in the British Medical Journal.
The study was based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which ran from 1995 to 2009, spanning life between adolescence and adulthood. It is deemed reliable and representative of U.S. social and ethnic backgrounds.
The young women reported their history of vaginal intercourse and pregnancy and their knowledge of birth control methods. Over 14 years, they responded to regular questionnaires.
Their age and commitment to a religion were also recorded, their parents were asked to say how much they had talked about sex or birth control and their school’s director was asked to say what part sex education had in the curriculum.
Nearly a third — 31 percent — of the “virgin pregnancy” group said they had made a chastity pledge. “Virgin mothers” were also more than two years younger, being 19.3 years on average, when they gave birth.
Lead author Amy Herring, a professor of biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the findings raise intriguing questions about sexual education and awareness, as well as the difficulties of getting accurate data about sex lives. “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.”