What is abstinence?

Practicing sexual abstinence means avoiding some or all types of sexual activity. It means different things to different people, and a person’s definition of it can change over time.

How does this method of birth control work?

For it to work, both partners need to talk about what “abstinence” means to them. If you are considering this 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 the risk for myself?

How effective is this method of birth control?

The effectiveness of it depends on your definition of this method of birth control. Abstaining from sexual activity in which the vagina might come into contact with the seminal fluid is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy when done perfectly and consistently in all circumstances.

Does abstinence reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections?

As with birth control, your definition of this method of birth control 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 ready to have sex/do not wish 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 this it
  • You are unsure about your ability to abstain in all circumstances
  • You are not comfortable talking to your partner about sex

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