Abstinence can be defined in the following ways:

“The voluntary self-denial of food, drink, or sex. Today, abstinence most commonly refers to denial of one’s sexual activity”; ((Abstinence, medicinenet.com, accessed on 10/6/2018)) “Abstinence simply means not having sex, and refraining from sexual intercourse”; ((Abstinence, americanpregnancy.org, accessed on 10/6/2018)) “Voluntarily not having sex. This could be for a period or for a lifetime.” ((Abstinence, urbandictionary.com, accessed on 10/6/2018))

Some individuals practice abstinence for religious or spiritual reasons. Others abstain from sex for other reasons, such as not having a partner, low or no interest in sex or medical issues. Whatever the motivation, prolonged periods of abstinence can have various effects on the mind and body.

The sourced articles below deal with some of the perceived benefits and drawbacks of abstaining from sexual contact, as well as teaching abstinence as a form of birth control.

  1. What’s Abstinence And Outercourse?

    “People are abstinent for lots of different reasons. Sometimes people use abstinence as birth control to prevent pregnancy.”

    Planned Parenthood Federation of America, plannedparenthood.org, accessed on 3/27/2018

  2. Abstinence-Only Education Is Ineffective And Unethical, Report Argues

    “The analysis confirms previous public health findings that abstinence-only education programs don’t succeed in reducing rates of teen pregnancies or STDs.”

    Sarah McCammon, npr.org, 8/23/2017

  3. Sex Education Based On Abstinence? There’s A Real Absence Of Evidence

    “Abstinence as a goal is more important than abstinence as a teaching point. By the metrics listed above, comprehensive sexual health programs are more effective.”

    Aaron E. Carroll, nytimes.com, 8/22/2017

  4. Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Are Ineffective And Harmful To Young People, Expert Review Confirms

    “In theory, abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs. However, many adolescents who intend to practice abstinence fail to actually do so, and they often fail to use condoms or other forms of contraception when they do have intercourse.”

    Online resource, guttmacher.org, 8/22/2017

  5. Sexual Abstinence And Sperm Quality

    “Thus, the data argues that so as to present the best semen samples for fertility treatment, men should collect semen sample after 3-8 days of abstinence as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).”

    Ahmed AlAwlaqi and Mohamed E. Hammadeh, ijwhr.net, 1/2017

  6. Temporary Sexual Abstinence: 6 Surprising Ways Your Body Changes After You Stop Having Regular Sex

    “Sexual ruts happen from time to time, but a lack of sex can have significant effects on our body. From erectile dysfunction to a weaker immune system, below are six surprising ways sexual abstinence influences our mental, emotional, and physical health.”

    Lizette Borreli, medicaldaily.com, 10/12/2016

  7. 4 Things That Happen To Your Vagina When You Stop Having Sex

    “Whether it’s voluntary celibacy chosen for spiritual or religious reasons … most of us will go through some sort of dry spell in our lives.”

    Judy McGuire, prevention.com, 8/25/2016

  8. 9 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Having Sex

    “There are physical consequences of going a while without sex, but many of them are basically negatively focused, which means you’re simply not getting the health benefits sex usually brings.”

    JR Thorpe, bustle.com, 1/26/2016

  9. How Celibacy Strengthens Your Sex Life

    “Making the commitment to abstain from sexual activity should be taken seriously by both partners, and only undertaken if one feels it’ll bring happiness and improvement to his/her life.”

    Glamazon Tony, ebony.com, 7/22/2014