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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Abstinence

Abstinence means refraining from all sexual relations. This includes intercourse, as well as oral and anal sex.

Abstinence differs from natural family plannand periodic abstinence in that people who choose abstinence do not engage in any act of sexual intercourse. If you are in a relationship and choose abstinence as a method of birth control, you are making a conscious decision to refuse or decline sexual intercourse.

You will need to discuss this decision with your partner, ideally, before any potential sexual encounters. Having this discussion ahead of time will help to reinforce your determination not to have sex until both of you are ready.

Advantages

  • Abstinence is the only method of birth control that guarantees 100-percent protection against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, abstinence does not cost anything, nor do you need to see your doctor. Abstinence does not interrupt or alter fertility. Pregnancy is possible as soon as the period of abstinence ends.

Disadvantages

  • The success of this method depends on your ability to consistently refuse sexual encounters. It is also important that your partner respect and support your choice to abstain.

Last updated September 17, 2010




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