The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics have released an interesting study detailing how self-reported sexual activity may be slightly inaccurate.
During a study of American teenagers’ health from 1995 to 2009, the researchers were surprised to discover that a number of women who reported being virgins also reported being pregnant.
Not too surprising, I suppose. I’ve heard that self reported activity is often skewed. But I’m somewhat surprised to read this:
Of the nearly 8,000 women in the study who were interviewed confidentially and multiple times for 14 years, 5,340 women reported a pregnancy, and 45 (0.8 percent) of those who reported pregnancies also reported being a virgin. These women had not used assisted reproductive techniques that can artificially induce pregnancy.
The wording of questions is what’s important here:
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.”
Researchers also found a few “virgin” fathers as well.
“Scientists may still face challenges when collecting self-reported data on sensitive topics,” despite taking precautions.