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Abstinence

Protect your sexual health by choosing chastity

Abstinence is defined as the personal choice not to engage in sexual acts. Some people choose to practice chastity for religious reasons; others choose sexual abstinence as a way to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. In recent years, there has also been an increase in the number of young people who are choosing to remain virgins until marriage.

Modern Approaches to Abstinence

Since educators recognize that it would be virtually impossible to prevent teenagers from having sex, abstinence education has, at least in public institutions, shifted its focus from an abstinence-only strategy to an abstinence-plus strategy. Essentially, an abstinence-plus strategy emphasizes that abstaining from sex is the only way to completely prevent STDs, but that people who choose to be sexually active should be faithful to a single partner and use contraceptives every time. Condoms are the contraceptives of choice, since birth control pills do not protect against STDs.

Critics of abstinence-plus education hold that there are inherent contradictions in linking sexual activity with sexual abstinence. Most religion-oriented sex education programs still stick to an abstinence-only approach, citing moral as well as health reasons for avoiding sex. However, there are many who believe that this is an impractical approach, and that it is more effective to be frank, honest and realistic with young people.

When it comes to abstinence versus contraceptives, there is universal agreement that the former is the most effective protective strategy. Even the most effective birth control methods have a success rate of less than 100 percent.

Ways to Display Your Commitment to Abstinence

Purity rings first appeared in the United States in the 1990s. Youth-oriented Christian sexual abstinence groups are credited with bringing them into the public consciousness during a time when sexual mores were more liberal than ever before.

Also called chastity rings, promise rings and Christian abstinence rings, these inexpensive and typically religious-themed pieces of jewelry are worn by young people who have vowed to remain celibate until marriage. Most young people who wear purity rings will only remove them when they're going to replace them with engagement or wedding rings.

In a world dominated by sexualized imagery and social pressures, making a commitment to abstinence can be a difficult choice. However, it can also be a rewarding way to live your life.

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