Sex Ed Lied To Us: It Turns Out You CAN Get Pregnant When You're Already Pregnant | 22 Words

Like puberty itself, sex ed is just one of those things that's generally awkward and causes excess sweating, but is an unavoidable part of growing up. Whether you sat in a classroom full of other uncomfortably squirming sixth graders, or had "the talk" at home with your uncomfortably squirming parents, at some point we all learned the basics of the birds and the bees. That was when we learned important information like:

Yes, body parts do have anatomical names and no, "wiener" isn't one of them.

Cooties are real, but they're not as cute as you think they are.

You can't get pregnant by holding hands — and you definitely can't get pregnant when you're already pregnant.

Well, hold on to your sixth grade diplomas, because I'm about to tell you something you're not going to believe.

According to the New York Times, it is possible to get pregnant while you're already pregnant with another baby.

The condition, called superfetation, is incredibly rare in humans, with only eleven cases reported to date; there were ten reported in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2008, plus the later case of this Arkansas woman who became pregnant with a girl and then became...re-pregnant?...with a boy more than two weeks later in 2009. The Times also states, however, that superfetation is pretty common in some other mammals, like cats. So what causes it?

Under normal circumstances, a woman's body changes in ways meant to prevent another pregnancy as soon as a fertilized egg stakes its claim in her uterus. She stops ovulating, and all her downstairs gear basically gets sealed up so it can start focusing on baking a baby (at least that's how I remember it from sex ed).

But for unknown reasons, occasionally an egg will go rouge and bust loose from her ovary at the same time a sperm breaks through her sealed-up lady defenses, and they find a spot to settle down together in the inhospitable terrain of an already occupied uterus, and...BOOM. You're double pregnant. Or superfetatiated. Or whatever they call it.

As if that weren't scary enough, these babies are often born at the same time, regardless of how far apart the conceptions were.

That can result in a premature birth for the baby who was second on the scene. That can be incredibly dangerous, but thankfully in cases like the one in Arkansas when the babies' conceptions are only a few weeks apart, there haven't been any reported complications. Still, even though this kind of pregnancy is rare, I think the only way to be sure to avoid it is abstinence. And also maybe wearing gloves while I'm holding hands. I know not everything they told us in sex ed was true, but you can't be too careful.