What is abstinence?
Practicing sexual abstinence means avoiding some or all types of sexual activity. So, abstinence means different things to different people, and a person’s definition of abstinence can change over time.
How does abstinence work?
For abstinence to work, both partners need to talk about what “abstinence” means to them. If you are considering abstinence as a method of birth control, try answering the following questions:
- What kinds of sexual activity am I comfortable engaging in right now?
- How does my partner define abstinence?
- Does my definition of abstinence fully protect me against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy? If not, how else will I reduce risk for myself?
How effective is abstinence?
The effectiveness of abstinence depends on your definition of abstinence. Abstaining from sexual activity in which the vagina might come into contact with seminal fluid is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Does abstinence reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections?
As with birth control, your definition of abstinence will determine how effective it is at reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be spread through oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control
- You are not yet ready to have sex
- You want to get to know your partner more intimately before engaging in sexual activity
- You are not comfortable with any risk of pregnancy or STIs
Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control
- You and your partners have different definitions of abstinence
- You are unsure about your ability to abstain in all circumstances
- You are comfortable talking to your partner about sex