What is abstinence?
Abstinence has different meanings for different people. For some, it means not participating in any vaginal intercourse. For others, it means not participating in ANY sexual activity with a partner, or even with themselves. Some people are only abstinent for a selected period of time, with one person, until they reach a certain life milestone, like marriage, or even forever. A better, more clear term for what people often mean when they talk about abstinence is celibacy, the deliberate choice to not have a sexual partner for any given period of time, whether it be a week or your life. Abstinence and celibacy are not the same thing as asexuality.
Is it really safer?
Abstinence, or celibacy, is often claimed to be the “the only safe sex.” This isn’t exactly true, as celibacy is really no kind of sex at all. There are versions of 100% safe sex, such as masturbation, phone sex, mutual masturbation, and non-genital partner massage! Celibacy is only safe when a definition of no sexual activity with a partner is applied.
Is celibacy right for me?
Choosing to not be sexually active is just as powerful as choosing to be! There is no right or wrong answer for what to do with your own body. Celibacy can be challenging. Not only are our bodies and brains wired for sexual desire, but our society often encourages it! Celibacy is a choice that should only be made for yourself.
Some reasons you may consider celibacy:
- You absolutely cannot risk becoming pregnant or causing empregnating someone else.
- You are unable to practice sex safely or responsibly due to age, financial issues, relationship issues, or for any other reason.
- You want to eliminate risk for STIs.
- Your personal and/or religious beliefs do not support sex before marriage or sex for any other reason than procreation.
- You just really don’t want a sexual partner right now! This can be because you are not ready for a sexual partner, you’re too busy, you’ve been sexually traumatized, you’re feeling “sick of sex”, you want to work on other aspects of your life, or because you just want a break.
- You or your partner are at risk of having an STI and you are waiting on test results.