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Abstinence means not having sex (vaginal, oral or anal). At any point in your life you may decide not to have sex. Not having sex at all is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If you change your mind, you may want to choose another birth control method to keep from getting pregnant. The decision to have sex is your personal decision and responsibility each and every time.

Advantages of abstinence:

  • Abstinence is free and available to all, at any time.
  • Abstinence can encourage people to build relationships in other, non-sexual ways.
  • Psychological effects might include feelings of being in control of one's life, positive self esteem.

Potential disadvantages of abstinence:

  • A person may choose to use abstinence and then change his or her mind "in the heat of the moment". It is important to decide in advance what intimate activities you will say "yes" to and those you will not. Avoid high pressure sexual situations and drugs or alcohol that can affect your good judgment.
  • Psychological effects could include a sense of failure or disappointment if abstinence cannot be maintained as planned.

Potential health risks:

  • There are no health risks to successfully practicing abstinence.

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