Resources for Teens > Preventing Pregnancy > Abstinence


What is abstinence?

Abstinence simply means not having sex; it means refraining from sexual intercourse. For most people, abstinence is the absence of sexual contact altogether.

How does abstinence work?

Abstinence prevents pregnancy because sexual intercourse does not take place. It involves refraining from any activity that leads to an exchange of body fluids.

Periodic abstinence is often used by couples who are practicing the fertility awareness method of birth control as a means of preventing pregnancy during the fertile period of a woman's cycle.

How effective is abstinence?

Abstinence prevents pregnancy 100% of the time when practiced consistently. It is the most effective form of birth control.

What are the side effects or health risks of abstinence?

There are no side effects or health risks related to abstinence.

What about abstinence and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's)?

Abstinence prevents the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases 100% of the time when practiced appropriately and consistently.

Frequently asked questions about abstinence:

How can I be successful at abstinence?

Abstinence is most successful when you are diligent and use planning within your relationships. To make it easier, try some of the following ideas:

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What about teenagers and abstinence?

Relationships that involve sexual intercourse are filled with physical, emotional and psychological risks. Abstinence provides teenagers the opportunity to avoid those risks.

Individuals who abstain from sexual intercourse during their teenage years tend to have fewer sexual partners in their future. Remaining abstinent as a teenager means that you will be less likely to:

How can my partner get to know me?

Sexual intercourse is not the only way two people can get to know each other. Too often, people open this door for drawing closer to one another only to regret the decision later because they did not really know each other at all. Intimacy can be developed through a variety of means such as:

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Why should someone choose abstinence?

Abstinence is chosen by women and men for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons people choose abstinence are noted below:

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How can I express my affection?

Intimacy and affection can be expressed in a number of ways other than sexual intercourse. Kissing, hugging, massaging, and holding hands are some of the ways that couples express their affection in a physical manner. Intimacy and affection can also be expressed in other ways such as:

What are the pros and cons of abstinence?

The Pros:

The Cons:


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