A person doesn't have to be a virgin
to practice abstinence. Sometimes, someone who has been having sex decides to stop
doing so. A person who has been having sex can still choose abstinence to prevent
pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs) in the future.
How Well Does Abstinence Work?
Abstinence is the only form of birth control that always prevents pregnancy. Practicing
abstinence ensures that a girl will not become pregnant because there is no chance
for sperm to fertilize an egg.
Many other birth control
methods have high rates of success if used properly, but they can fail occasionally.
Does Abstinence Help Prevent STDs?
Abstinence protects people against STDs from vaginal sex. But STDs can also spread
through oral-genital sex, anal sex, or even intimate skin-to-skin contact without
actual penetration (for example, genital
warts and herpes
can spread this way).
Complete abstinence is the only way to guarantee protection against
STDs. This means avoiding all types of intimate genital contact.
Someone practicing complete abstinence does not have any type of intimate sexual contact,
including oral sex. So there is no risk of getting an STD.
Not having sex may seem easy because it's not doing anything. But peer
pressure and other things can make the decision to practice abstinence difficult.
If it seems like everybody else is having sex, you may feel like you have to also.
But teasing or pressure
from friends, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend shouldn't push you into something that's
not right for you.
Choosing abstinence is an important decision — and yours to make.
What Else Should I Know?
If you have questions about making this choice or about other birth control methods,
talk to a trusted adult. If you feel you can't talk to a parent, reach out to a teacher,
a counselor, a doctor, or a school nurse who can provide answers.