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Abstinence usually refers to the practice of voluntarily refraining from certain activities or behaviors, usually related to sex, alcohol, drugs, or other potentially harmful substances or behaviors. In the context of sexual abstinence (click here for the Celibacy Topic), it typically means choosing not to engage in sexual activity or to delay sexual activity until a later time. This decision can be based on personal, religious, or moral beliefs, as well as concerns about health, safety, and emotional well-being. Abstinence is often promoted as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (click here for the STD Topic), and other negative consequences associated with sexual activity.

The sourced articles below should provide more information on sexual abstinence.

    1. What Is Abstinence?

      “Abstinence simply means not having sex, and refraining from sexual intercourse. For most people, abstinence is the absence of sexual contact altogether. It is the healthiest way to avoid teen pregnancy and the best way to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted infection.”

      American Pregnancy Association, americanpregnancy.org, accessed 4/27/2022

    2. What Are The Different Types Of Abstinence?

      “For some people, abstinence means not doing ANY kind of sexual stuff with another person, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. For other people, abstinence only means not having vaginal sex, but other sexual activities are allowed. You can decide what abstinence means to you. When it comes to preventing pregnancy, doing any or all sexual stuff besides vaginal sex is called ‘outercourse.’”

      Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., plannedparenthood.org, accessed 4/27/2022

    3. What Is Abstinence?

      “The definition of abstinence varies from person to person, but can include not engaging in oral, anal or vaginal sex. Abstinence from vaginal/anal sex is the only form of birth control that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence from oral, anal, and vaginal sex also protects people against STIs.”

      Yale Health, yalehealth.yale.edu, accessed 4/27/2022

    4. How Effective Is Abstinence?

      “If used consistently, abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. If your definition of abstinence means no vaginal intercourse but includes other kinds of sexual activities, it is important to know that there is a small chance of pregnancy from a penis being rubbed near the opening of the vagina with no clothes in between, a partner ejaculating on the vulva, or from unprotected anal sex (if the penis slips or semen leaks down to the vaginal opening).”

      Options For Sexual Health, optionsforsexualhealth.org, accessed 4/27/2022

    5. All About Abstinence!

      “What if I have had sex before, can I still choose abstinence?
      You can choose abstinence at any time, even if you have had sex before. People may choose abstinence at different times in their life and for different reasons.”

      TeenSource, teensource.org, accessed 4/27/2022

    6. Abstinence

      “Who Practices Abstinence?
      Peer pressure and other things sometimes can make it hard for someone to decide to practice abstinence. But the truth is, many teens don’t have sex. Abstinence also can give someone time to think about and grow an emotional connection. Having sex can change a relationship, and it’s completely normal to not feel ready for that or the complicated feelings it can bring. So don’t let teasing or pressure from friends, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend push you into something that’s not right for you. Choosing abstinence is an important decision — and yours to make.”

      Reviewed by Lonna P. Gordon, MD, kidshealth.org, 1/2022

    7. What Is Abstinence?

      “There are many reasons why you might practice abstinence, including:
      – Not feeling ready to have sex yet
      – No birth control available
      – Don’t want to use available birth control methods
      – Waiting for marriage or a special partner
      – Recent breakup
      – Focusing on work or school
      – Personal or religious beliefs
      – Medically necessary following an illness”

      Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD, webmd.com, 6/27/2021

    8. What Is Abstinence?

      “Sexual abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity by self volition. Reasons for sexual abstinence adoption include religious or philosophical reasons, prevention of conception or sexually transmitted diseases, legal injunctions or due to psychosociological reasons like presence of mental ailments like depression, anxiety etc.”

      Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD; Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, MA (Editor), news-medical.net, 1/13/2021

    9. What To Know About The Possible Benefits Of NoFap

      “People who choose not to masturbate could miss out on these benefits, which include: …
      – Abstinence: Masturbation can make it easier for people who want to practice abstinence. It can also be an important harm reduction strategy to prevent pregnancy and slow the spread of sexually transmitted infections.”

      Zawn Villines; Medically reviewed by Jennifer Litner, PhD, LMFT, CST, medicalnewstoday.com, 9/29/2020

    10. Sexual Abstinence And Associated Factors Among Young And Middle-Aged Men: A Systematic Review

      “Conclusion … Young men had higher proportions of sexual abstinence than middle-aged men, and age, unavailability of a partner, lower educational levels, low socioeconomic status, conservative and religious conditions, and no or less knowledge about sexually transmitted infections were common predictors of sexual abstinence in most of the men. Although determinants of sexual abstinence were identified, further investigation of biological factors in men younger than 60 years is needed.”

      Muhammad Irfan, PhD; Nik Hazlina Nik Hussain, M Med O&G; Norhayati Mohd Noor, PhD; Mahaneem Mohamed, PhD; Shaiful Bahari Ismail, M Med Fam Med, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 17, Issue 3, sciencedirect.com, 3/2020