Women are having children after undergoing IVF - despite never having had sex, according to doctors.
Twenty-five young women in the UK, all of whom are hetereosexual and in their twenties, have opted for IVF in the past five years because they feel ready to be a parent, doctors told the Mail on Sunday.
Some who have had the "virgin births" said they made the decision because they were still waiting for the right partner - and a few said they were afraid of sex owing to psychosexual complications.
Whilst some religious groups have said a child should be brought up in a traditional family, one doctor said these single mothers are often more emotionally and financially stable than others who have been left to bring up a child after a relationship breakdown.
Laura Witjens, chief executive of the National Gamete Donation Trust, said society tended to "freak out" when they heard about single women going for motherhood. "These women have a right to choose this path if they want to, but clinics do have a responsibility to consider why they want to do so," she told the Mail.
A survey in 2013 claimed that one in every 200 women in the US reported to have become pregnant without having had sexual intercourse.
Of these women, 31% said they had signed a chastity pledge whereby they vow, usually for religious reasons, not to have sex. About 28% of those girls' parents said they rarely talked to them about sex or contraception - compared to only 5% of other women who became pregnant and had had intercourse.
During his visit to the US last week, Pope Francis said there were "unprecedented changes" in the family structure. He said the rise in consumerism was making people less likely to trust one another.
"Business is no longer conducted on the basis of trust [...] there are no longer close personal relationships. Today's culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust or let others trust in them."
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