Why Choose Abstinence

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Did you know that over half of teens in the United States are not having sex? In California, that number is even lower. Less than one third (32%) 0f California teens reported that they are having sex, and less than a quarter said they are currently sexually active.


What is abstinence?

Abstinence means choosing not to something, like choosing to not have sex. You may hear people say they are abstaining from drugs, alcohol, caffeine, or other things but in this context we are going to be talking about abstaining from sex. Different people define abstinence in different ways, but because any type of sex can spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs), we define abstinence as not having any type of sex – oral, vaginal, and/or anal sex. People can choose abstinence at any time in their lives. Even if someone has had sex in the past, they can still choose to be abstinent now or in the future.

How effective is abstinence?

If someone chooses to not have any type of sex or sexual contact, abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs! Pregnancy is caused by sperm meeting with an egg in a uterus, so by choosing to not have vaginal sex, sperm can’t get to an egg and cause a pregnancy. Some STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact so in order to be 100% effective at preventing STIs, abstinence means excluding ALL types of sexual contact, even “outercourse.”  Choosing to not have sex, but to have “outercourse” can be a great way to protect against pregnancy and STIs, but remember, it may not be 100% effective!

Why choose abstinence?

People choose abstinence for many reasons. Abstinence is the best way to protect against STIs and pregnancy, and can help a couple or individual focus on their relationship and goals. Abstinence is also free and easy. Someone may not feel ready to have sex or may be waiting for the right time in their life to start having sex. During this current COVID-19 pandemic, some people may choose abstinence because close contact with someone else can spread COVID-19.

What if I have had sex before, can I still choose abstinence?

You can choose abstinence at any time, even if you have had sex before. People may choose abstinence at different times in their life and for different reasons.

What if I want to have sex?

Most people choose to have sex at some point in their life, which is totally normal. If and when you choose to have sex that could cause pregnancy, it’s good to know about the different birth control methods that are available. To prevent the spread of STIs and HIV and protect yourself and your partners, it’s best to use condoms every time and also get tested. For more information, get birth control or make an appointment for an STI test, find a clinic near you! You can also find free condoms.

Remember, it’s up to you when and whether to have sex or to choose abstinence. In order to have sex, you must give enthusiastic consent. If anyone ever has sex without consent it is considered assault and there are resources to help you. No matter what you choose, remember that there are many other teens making the same choice and it’s always important to do what is right for you, and that can or likely will change over time. You have the power to decide.

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