I’ve come across an article that dates back a couple of years within the British Medical Journal, and is a study that reveals that 1 out of every 200 women in the US who are pregnant, claim to have done so without ever having had any sexual intercourse.
Do we have lots of little Jesuses and gangs of shepherds roaming the countryside looking for them?
Actually no, there is something else going on here, and so for a bit of fun I’m resurrecting it today … well when you consider the date, then it is quite appropriate.
While it is an old study, the revelation (if you will forgive the use of religious language here) is just too good to pass over, and so I thought that a few wise folks out there might like to come and drop to the floor before it, and proceed to laugh.
Virgin Births – what might be going on here?
If 1 in 200 are indeed claiming that they have never had sex, then we do need to ask how is it possible for such a virgin birth to take place?
One possibility is that it is parthenogenesis due to the development of the embryo without fertilisation. This has been observed in pit vipers, boa constrictors, sharks, and Komodo dragons, but not naturally in humans … ever, so you can cross that option off.
We do have the religious card to play, and so apart from the rather obvious one, we also have stories of various Greek gods doing the deed to human women, for example the birth of Perseus and Dionysus. Nope, there are no amorous Greek gods roaming the US landscape, so we are not rolling with this one either.
OK, so what exactly does the study reveal?
You can find it all here and there is no paywall, so you can read it all. It was first published in Dec 2013.
It lays out a report that is based upon self-reported claims, so we can be 100% sure that they are all telling the truth … right?
Yes of course your skepticism is kicking in now, but that perhaps is not only the key point, it is also the essence of the humour here.
So they have a data sample of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28, and out of that full sample, 45 claimed to be experiencing a Virgin Birth, that represents about 0.8%
Now this is where it all gets quite interesting (as if it was not already interesting) because they analysed the data and discovered that these “virgins” all shared some rather common attributes, and no I don’t mean wise men or wandering stars, but rather something else.
- Their parents rarely or never spoke to them about sex or birth control
- A far higher percentage of the “Virgin” mothers had signed chastity pledges and were more religious
Cue the “Why am I not surprised” comment.
Apart from the 45 virgin births, we also have a rather interesting sub-category where the study authors use the term “Born Again Virgin”. This is a category where about 244 mothers at first admitted early on during the study that they had indeed had sexual intercourse, but during the later stages of the study decided to change their minds about that, and claimed they had not done so.
As an aside, a topic of related interest here is teen pregnancies. What is already well-known is that when religion is in the mix, the incidence of teen pregnancies is far higher, and so this study also confirms that and adds more data.
Clearly the BMJ took all this very seriously because the study was timed to be in a Christmas issue.
So what is the study really all about, why would they publish it?
The BMJ is not Private Eye and do not publish to just entertain their readers, so you can be sure that there is a real point being made.
Yes, it is perhaps seasonal, and a tad humorous, and yet it really is also a serious issue. The key of course is that the real reason for the article and study is to highlight how challenging it can be for Doctors to handle topics that are quite sensitive for some, and that relying upon the accuracy of self-reporting can lead to some very misleading results.