Good Reasons for Sexual Abstinence

Sexual abstinence can keep you from getting pregnant and protect you from STDs. Some people choose abstinence for other reasons as well.

Medically Reviewed

Many young people and adults are choosing to abstain from sex these days, for many different reasons. Even if you’ve had sex before, abstinence may make sense at certain points in your life, for both your emotional and physical health.

Abstinence means different things to different people. Many heterosexuals who choose abstinence consider it to mean not having vaginal intercourse, particularly to preserve virginity. Others say abstinence means no vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. For some, abstinence means avoiding all sexual behavior, including kissing.

Why Do Young People Say No to Sex?

Abstinence from vaginal intercourse is the only 100 percent effective means of preventing pregnancy, and it is viewed by some as the best way for young people to avoid both pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases.

However, if you still participate in oral sex or anal sex, you do stand a chance of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Only abstinence from all forms of sex can protect you from STDs 100 percent of the time.

There are also long-term health-related reasons for young people to remain abstinent until later in life. Women who abstain from sex until past their teenage years are less likely to get STDs that can lead to cervical cancer and infertility. Likewise, young men who avoid sexual activity may be at lower risk of STDs associated with condoms and employing other safe sex practices.

Why Might Adults Decide to Say No to Sex?

Adults who are no longer virgins often choose to practice sexual abstinence for reasons other than birth control or avoiding STDs. They may be:

  • Waiting for the right person to be sexually active with
  • Mourning the loss of a significant other
  • Focusing on work or education
  • Recovering from an illness
  • Maintaining a moral or religious principle

Sticking to Your Sexual Abstinence Decision

It can be tough to remain abstinent. You might have to deal with peer pressure to become sexually active, particularly if you're a virgin. Or you might be in an intimate relationship where sex seems like the next step.

You can more successfully maintain your abstinence if you:

  • Talk with your partner about your decision to abstain from sex, especially before things reach that level. Be open, honest, and straightforward about your limits — even if it feels embarrassing.
  • Don't participate in physical contact that could lead to arousal.
  • Don't reconsider your abstinence in the midst of a sexual situation. Step back from the situation and take time to reflect on the factors that influenced your decision to remain abstinent in the first place.
  • Think ahead about what you would say or do to stop physically intimate activities if you feel things are going too far. Practice actually saying the words, and think about what your partner's response would be.
  • Don't let anyone pressure you into sex. It is your decision alone to give up your virginity or participate in sexual activity.
  • Take part in activities that involve friends or groups, such as going on double dates.

One drawback to abstinence is that many men and women decide to end it without fully preparing themselves. If you do decide to become sexually active, be certain to guard against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by consistently using condoms and employing other safe sex practices. Take the time to learn about the various methods of birth control and make sure you have access to them if you so choose.