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Abstinence means not having any kind of sex with a partner. Sex includes vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Oral sex is any kind of contact between the mouth and the genitals or anus. Anal sex is intercourse through the anus instead of the vagina.
A lot of teens think being abstinent means not having vaginal intercourse. They may still have other kinds of sex and think of themselves as abstinent.
But complete abstinence is the only way to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like herpes or HIV/AIDS. And it's the best way to prevent pregnancy. To make sure it works, you have to be abstinent all the time.
Abstinence doesn't mean "never had sex." You can choose to be abstinent even if you've had sex before. Many people decide to be abstinent on and off throughout their lives, for a lot of different reasons.
You may have religious, cultural, or personal beliefs about abstinence.
Or you might decide to be abstinent to:
You don't have to be dating to be thinking about abstinence. In fact, it's a good idea to know how you feel about sex before you have to make a decision about it.
If you're dating and you decide to be abstinent, talk about your reasons with your partner. It's important to be honest with each other, even if you feel embarrassed or awkward.
Here are some things to think about:
Your partner may pressure you to "give in." Your friends might try to make you feel embarrassed about your choices. And there's probably a part of you that's curious about sex, even if you don't want to have it now. Although it can be hard to stay abstinent, there are things you can do to overcome the pressure to have sex.
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Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
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