More people are doing it...or not doing it!
Studies have shown that an increasing number of young Americans are abstaining from sex. One study in 2011 reported that 29 percent of females and 27 percent of males aged 15 to 24 said they had not yet had any sexual contact. The figures had increased from 22 percent in 2002, the date of the previous large-scale study.
For many, the choice of abstinence stems from their religious beliefs. In fact, much of the rise in abstinence can be attributed to a growing church-based movement actively promoting abstinence. The most prominent program is True Love Waits, in which followers wear an “abstinence ring” to show their commitment to remaining a virgin. But people choose abstinence even if they aren’t following a religious doctrine. For some people, it’s a decision based on keeping their body sacred, a personal religion of protection.
Abstinence is a healthy choice for a variety of reasons. As I’ve said before, any sexual relationship presents risks. Abstinence is a very good way to postpone taking those risks until you are better able to handle them. Women who abstain until their 20s — and who have fewer partners in their lifetimes — may have certain health advantages over women who do not. They are less likely to get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which I also like to refer to now as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are also less likely to become infertile or develop cervical cancer.
Beyond protecting your long-term sexual health, you are also protecting your heart. By waiting for sex until you are mature and deeply in love, you will have laid the groundwork for a healthy sexual relationship that comes from a place of trust and honesty.
But can this really be done in today’s sexually charged society? Abstinence is often easier for young women than young men. It’s not that women aren’t sexual in nature. But let’s face it, men — especially young men whose hormones are working double time — are up against testosterone. While both sexes have the natural urge to procreate, for men the chemical combination is often too strong to control. Even with the best of intentions, it’s seemingly more difficult for men to abstain from sex until they get married. That’s not to say it can’t (or shouldn’t) be done.
Staying abstinent is a choice you make every day. Don't reevaluate your decision to stay abstinent during sexually charged situations — stick with your decision until you can think about it with a clear head. However, if abstinence isn’t in your cards, safer sex definitely should be. Remember not having sex is the only fail-safe method of birth control. Still, it’s important to fully explore all your contraception options and use a method that works best for you.
Condoms should be non-negotiable in the relationship until both of you have a doctor’s confirmation that you have both been STD-free for the past six months (some infections can lay dormant or don’t present symptoms immediately).
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