Abstinence can be defined in many ways, depending on the person. In many cases, it is considered to be the absence of having vaginal intercourse. In these instances, a couple may enjoy foreplay and “outersex”, but don’t practice behavior that may lead to pregnancy.
Other people view abstinence as not having any kind of sex play or a relationship with any partner. This second definition protects people from all sexually transmitted diseases, while the former definition (where abstinence allows for outersex play) does not protect you from STDs.
Abstinence: The Fool Proof Way to Avoid Pregnancy
Many forms of contraception we discuss with our patients provide 99% (or close to 99%) protection against pregnancy. That is, of course, only if the woman uses the contraception correctly and doesn’t fall into a category that lessens the effectiveness of the contraception. However, the only fool-proof way to avoid pregnancy is by being abstinent. If the latter definition of abstinence is practiced (no outersex play), then abstinence is also 100% effective against STDs.
What are the benefits of abstinence?
- Unlike other forms of contraception, it is 100% free.
- It has no medical or hormonal side effects.
- It prevents STDs.
- It allows you to focus on your school, career or other safer activities.
Studies show that women who abstain from sex until their 20s often have fewer partners over their lifetime, and are less likely to get STDs (which lead to infertility and increased chances of cervical cancer).
Are there any disadvantages to abstinence?
The biggest disadvantage is the difficulty people face trying to abstain from sex for long periods of time (particularly with hormones and peer pressure). Oftentimes, abstinence will be ended without being prepared with the proper protection, such as a condom. Even if you intend on remaining abstinent, it’s recommended that you carry a condom with you in case one day you find yourself questioning your choice.
How can you have an open conversation about abstinence?
Abstinence isn’t just a difficult decision that affects you — it also affects your partners. This is why it’s important to have open conversations with your partners about your personal choice. Ideally, you’ll discuss these feelings before anything sexual transpires. This includes being clear on what will be allowed and what is “off limits”.