Young women's version of this guide


What exactly is abstinence?

Abstinence means that you’re not having any type of sexual intercourse – vaginal, oral, or anal.

According to a 2019 national study of high school students in the United States 56.7% of 12th graders reported ever having sexual intercourse regardless of gender. Among all high school students in the U.S. 38.4% reported ever having sexual intercourse; 39.2% of those who identified as male reported ever having sexual intercourse. (Note: the study only reported binary genders – male and female).

What are the benefits of choosing abstinence?

Many teens choose abstinence because they want to be 100% sure to avoid STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy (if vagina penis sex). Abstinence is the best protection against STIs, and is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Some teens also choose abstinence because of religious beliefs or because of their own values.

What if I feel pressured to have sex?

Some guys may think that having sex will make them more popular or prove their manhood. This isn’t the case. In fact, having sex before you’re ready can lead to negative consequences such as feeling guilty, scared, or regretful. If you decide not to have sex, you don’t need to explain or justify your decision. If you feel peer pressure to have sex, remember that you’re the person who has to deal with the consequences.

What if my partner is ready and I’m not?

A good relationship is about communication. It’s important to talk to your partner about whether or not you’re ready to have sex. You shouldn’t have sex unless you both feel comfortable and that it’s right for both of you.

You can also ask you health care provider for advice. Here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: How do I tell my partner I’m not ready to have sex?

Who can I talk to about sex?

It can be helpful to talk about your thoughts and feelings with an adult or friend you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. Some suggestions are parents, other family members, counselors, or health care providers. It’s also important to be honest with your health care provider about having sex because they can help you have safer sex and can help if any health issues arise.

How can I tell if I’m ready to have sex?

As a teen, it’s normal to want to have sex. However, you should listen to your thoughts and beliefs to help you decide when the time is right.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you aren’t comfortable talking to your partner about sex, you’re probably not ready to have sex. Remind yourself that abstinence is the only way to completely avoid pregnancy and STIs. Most importantly, you should never feel pressured to have sex.

Here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: “I think I don’t want to have sex right now. How do I tell my partner/friends?”