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Table Of Contents

What is Abstinence?

Abstinence is when you do not engage in any sort of sexual activity at any time (ie. no contact between your genitals and any part of your partner’s body). This is the only 100% effective way to ensure you do not become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

There are different degrees of being abstinent. Some people engage in various sexual activities without engaging in vaginal intercourse. For more information on this, please check out our page about outercourse. Other people will refrain from sex at certain intervals based on the likelihood of pregnancy at the time. For information on this, please see our page on fertility awareness.

For the purpose of this page, our definition of abstinence is when you do not engage in sexual activity, of any kind, at any time.

How Does Abstinence Prevent Pregnancy?

In order to become pregnant, a female egg must be fertilized by sperm. Since this cannot happen when you are abstinent, you cannot become pregnant. The only way to become pregnant during abstinence, is if you seek medical help via alternate sources like in vitro.

What Are the Benefits?

There are many benefits to abstinence because it is:

  • Free
  • 100% effective in preventing pregnancy
  • Prevents STD Transmission
  • Not harmful to your body (no hormonal or medical side effects)
  • Beneficial in helping you focus on other things (your partner, school, work, etc.)
  • Safe (no risk of infection or illness)
  • Supportive of certain personal, moral or religious beliefs

What Are the Disadvantages?

There are very few disadvantages to abstinence. None that are medically concerning or will have negative side effects on your body.

The only disadvantage is that the urge of sexual intercourse may make it hard to remain abstinent for long periods of time. This can result in a person being unprepared for an active sex life and everything it entails.

How Effective is it?

This is the only birth control option that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and the transfer of STD’s.

Is it Safe?

This is one of the safest methods in preventing pregnancy and there are no harmful side effects.

How do I practice Abstinence?

  • Honesty – talk to your partner about why you choose to by abstinent.
  • Communication – let your partner know that you want to refrain from having sexual intercourse, regardless if you have had sexual encounters in the past.
  • Sharing – be open about other ways you want to connect with your partner, sex play is not the only way to build trust.
  • Respect – make sure that both you and your partner understand abstinence. If they cannot respect your decision it will be difficult for you to practice abstinence.
  • Think outside the box – depending on the level of abstinence, look at other activities such as outercourse.

In order for you to stay abstinent, ask yourself why you chose to be in the first place. Are you:

  • Clear on why you chose to be in the first place?
  • Aware of the benefits of staying abstinent?
  • In contact with people in your life that can help you with your decision?
  • Able to approach them and will they be supportive?

By asking yourself these questions, it can help your success on being abstinent on a daily basis.

Tips for Practicing Abstinence

This is a decision that is made on a daily basis. There are various ways that can help you prepare yourself to refrain from having sexual intercourse. Think about the consequences of pregnancy or STD’s.

Do not reevaluate your decision once you have made it. This can be hard when you are put in difficult situations, like when alcohol is involved. Always think clearly and ask yourself, would you make this decision if you were sober?

Being abstinent can be hard for long periods of time. If you are considering stopping, make sure you ask yourself why you started. Do you have access to other types of birth control? How will you be protecting yourself from pregnancy and STD’s?

Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.