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.
Abstinence does not prevent HIV/AIDS,
hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infections
that can spread through nonsexual activities, like using contaminated needles for
tattooing or injecting drugs or steroids.
Who Practices Abstinence?
Not having sex may seem easy because it's not doing anything. But peer pressure
and things teens see on TV and in the movies can make the decision to practice abstinence
difficult. If it seems like everybody else is having sex, some teens may feel they
have to also.
Help your kids understand that teasing or pressure from friends, a girlfriend,
a boyfriend, or even the media shouldn't push them into something that's not right
Choosing abstinence is an important decision — and kids might not realize
it, but most teens are not having sex.
How Can Parents Help?
Teens may have questions about making this choice or about other birth control
methods. Make sure yours has an adult he or she can trust — you, a teacher,
a counselor, a doctor, or a school nurse — who can provide answers.