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Pregnant Virgins: Not Just For Nativity Scenes

Teenage Girl Lying On Her Bed With Pregnancy Test
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Roughly one in every 200 pregnant women in America say they are virgins.

Just think about that for a second.

Yes, we're as perplexed as you are. But, a new study that's published in the British Medical Journal states the statistic.

Here are the facts: The researchers examined the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. That study followed the lives of around 8,000 young women for 14 years. In addition to noting things such as their beliefs, they also recorded their reproductive histories. "Out of 5,340 who reported a pregnancy, 45 claimed to be pregnant without admitting, to researchers at least, that they'd ever had sex," Slate noted.

So how does a woman who is pregnant and gives birth to a child believe she's still a virgin? Looking at the demographic of the virgin moms points to a few theories; for one, the mothers tend to be younger than the nonvirgin moms (19 versus 22), and they were also more likely to have taken an abstinence pledge. Researchers believe because of these factors, the mothers are often in denial, especially when they can read about mythical stories of women getting pregnant from toilet seats and hot tubs. They're simply not willing to admit that they didn't keep their pledge.

But like Slate notes, it could also have to do with the fact that virginity has never properly been medically defined. It seems far-fetched to think that young women would think in such theoretical terms as to question, "What does virginity really mean?" but it does make us look at the word from a different perspective.

Women who are sexually assaulted may not want to define their experience as sex because they were coerced; or perhaps you weren't in love your first time; or it lasted less than a minute. What people define as sex is fluid, so perhaps these virgin mothers define virginity in a fluid way, as well.

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