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Just like other aspects of your sexuality, abstinence is a personal choice. It’s all about finding out what you feel comfortable with and what works for you.

Abstinence means many things to many people. Sometimes the pressure to be abstinent can be as strong as the pressure to have sex. In the same way that no one should force you to have sex, no one should force you to be abstinent.

What is abstinence?

Basically, abstinence is choosing to not have sex or certain types of sex. Abstinence can mean:

  • Not having sexual activity of any kind with another person, not even kissing.
  • Not having vaginal* sex, but having oral or anal sex.
  • Any combination of sexual acts as long as at least one act is excluded
  • All of these definitions are ok.

Why might I consider abstinence?

  • You may not feel ready to have sex and want to wait until the right time and place.
  • You may feel you want to wait till you find the right person who you want to have a serious relationship with.
  • You may want to avoid getting an STI.
  • You may want to avoid pregnancy.
  • Your religious or moral beliefs may encourage and support abstinence.
  • If you are simply not interested in sex.

Help!  I feel pressured to be abstinent, but I’m not sure what I want!

  • Even if you value someone else’s opinion, you are the only person who has the right to decide if you want to be abstinent or not.

How do I tell my partner I have chosen abstinence?

  • The sooner you talk about your decision the better.
  • Talk to your partner early in your relationship before you become physically intimate with each other.
  • Remember that you can always say no or change your mind to any activity at any time.

What if I have already had sex in the past?

  • You don’t have to be a virgin to choose abstinence.
  • People who have already had sex may choose to stop having sex for many different reasons.
  • Some people choose to stop having sex for a period of time and then choose to start having sex again.
Useful Tip
At any time in your life you can choose to stop having sex or to be sexually active, for whatever length of time feels right for you.

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.

Last Edited: May 2020