My cousin was pregnant with her second child, and she and her husband went to the doctor for some tests, one of which pinpointed the exact date of conception. The doctor said to my cousin and her husband, “The test says you got pregnant on XYZ date. Does that seem right to you?” My cousin and her husband said, “Yes, I think we had sex that day,” and the doctor looked relieved. He told them that he always asks the “does that seem right to you” question anymore ever since he had an uncomfortable moment not that long ago.

A woman and her husband got the test, and the doctor said to them, “You conceived on ABC date,” at which point the husband said, “That’s impossible, I was in Iraq.” So the wife quickly said that there were contractors at the house that day, and one of the contractors must have masturbated into a towel that the wife then used after showering. The towel, then, managed to impregnate the wife.

The doctor told this story to illustrate some uncomfortable positions he’s found himself in, but my cousin and I wondered: is it possible to get pregnant from a towel?

I called my uncle, a retired ob-gyn doctor, to ask.

My uncle said he used to get a lot of these “it must have been the towel” stories when he was practicing. He said most of the towel-tale-tellers are teenagers who don’t want to cop to having had sex, and wives who have cuckolded their husbands. He said in all his years as an ob-gyn he never even once saw a case where it turned out that the pregnant person really had been inseminated by a towel, or a toilet seat, or anything other than an inappropriate sex partner, which leads to his belief that no one ever actually gets pregnant that way.

It is, he said, technically possible to get pregnant without having sex—-but it’s nearly impossible, and if someone comes to the office and immediately cottons on to some weirdo towel/contractor story it means they’re either lying or else they have experienced something so statistically unique that whole religions should be based on their procreative miracle.