Abstinence means not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Complete abstinence is the only way to guarantee that you won't get pregnant or a Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infection (STBBI). You can choose to be abstinent even if you have had sex before. Many people choose abstinence based on religious, cultural, or personal beliefs.

What are the pros and cons of being abstinent?


  • Most effective method of avoiding unplanned pregnancy
  • 100% protection against STBBIs
  • It saves you money
  • No medical or hormonal side effects
  • Can be started at any time
  • May support a person's moral or religious beliefs and values


  • If alcohol or drugs are involved it can be harder to stick to your decision to stay abstinent
  • Requires both partners to be fully committed
  • There can be a lot of pressure or temptations to have sex

How do I deal with the pressure to have sex?

The pressure to have sex, or not to have sex comes from all directions. Pressure can come from your partner, your friends, your family, and social media. At the end of the day, it's your decision! Once you've made your decision, you need to let your partner do the same. Be respectful, as they may not have made the same decision as you. Forcing someone to have sex when they've said no is a crime. No means no!

How do I talk to my partner about abstinence?

You don't have to be dating to be thinking about whether or not to engage in sex or to practice abstinence. In fact, it's a good idea to know how you feel about sex before you have to make a decision about it. Once you have made this important decision, talk about your reasons with your friends and any potential partners. It's important to be honest and up front, even if you feel awkward or embarrassed. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Ask yourself what your reasons are for wanting to be abstinent. Some common reasons are:
    • Not ready to have sex
    • Don't feel safe and secure
    • Not prepared or ready to use birth control
    • Want to prevent an unwanted pregnancy
    • Avoid a STBBI
    • Stay true to religious, cultural, or personal beliefs
  • You might want to focus on school, work, or life goals. It's okay to want to focus on what is important to you.
  • You may want to wait until you have found the “right” person for you.
  • Know what you want and how you feel before things get sexual.
  • Think about the kinds of situations or activities that could lead to you feeling “turned on” which would make it hard for you to say "no."
  • Be clear with your partner about your limits.
  • Sex isn't the only way to be intimate with someone. Talking, listening, sharing, holding hands, kissing, and spending time together can build trust and closeness.

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