You’re probably looking at this headline about how abstaining from sex is dangerous and thinking, “Uh, WTF are you talking about? Abstinence is the safest form of safe sex!” Hold up, let me explain. First, let’s go through some facts: Teen pregnancy is at a new low, thanks to teens having better access to the morning after pill and birth control. But it’s also thanks to the fact that teens aren’t having as much sex now as they used to. In 1988, 51 precent of teen girls said they’ve had sex, now the number is more like 44 percent.
You know what’s not responsible for declining teen pregnancy rates? Abstinence!
If you equate abstinence to “not having sex,” you might be a little confused right now. I’m going to undo that: Yes, not having sex is definitely a part of abstinence, but abstinence as a belief is strongly rooted in actively trying not to have sex, usually for religious or otherwise moral decisions. So of course not having sex just isn’t dangerous–you’re not worrying about getting pregnant, or STDs, etc. But actively deciding not to have sex? Studies have shown that that can lead to some seriously negative consequences. Here are six ways abstinence can be dangerous; it might be time to ditch that purity ring for good.
You Can Get A Sexual MiseducationAbstinence is often promoted with the help of abstinence only sex education in schools. Along with promoting “not having sex” as safe sex, the same educators will downplay the effectiveness about protection and make up lies about birth control. So, when a bunch of horny teenagers want to have sex, are persuaded not to have sex, and don’t know anything about sex leads to a pretty toxic combination, which ultimately leads to... Freaks And Geeks
You Can End Up Using BS Sexual Loopholes To Remain 'Pure'Those same horny teenagers who make abstinence pledges don’t suddenly stop having sexy feelings. They’ll still act on them, but they’ll come up with loopholes to keep their purity in tact and get off a the same time. This is the kind of mindset that leads to teenagers having anal sex to preserve their virginity, because apparently Jesus doesn’t care about the butt I guess. But I'm A Teenager
It Can Increase Your Chances Of Having An STD And Becoming PregnantStudies have shown that people who break their abstinence only pledge and have multiple partners have a higher chance of obtaining an STD like HPV as opposed to teens who never had an abstinence pledge in the first place. Uh, yikes. But that pales in comparison to this stat: National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health surveyed teens over a course of six years. Eighteen percent of those teens who didn't take a purity pledge ended up pregnant within six years after having sex. The ones who did take purity pledges? Well, they broke it and were pregnant while unmarried. The To-Do List
You Aren't Likely To Remain Abstinent Unless You're Hardcore ReligiousSo, it’s nice to say that you’re abstaining for religious reasons, but are you really that religious? Apparently, devoutly religious people are the only ones who have a higher chance of remaining abstinent. The occasional church going teen who owns a bible? Not so much. Remember when all those Disney Channel stars like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and The Jonas Brothers had purity rings? Well, they don't anymore, none of them are married yet, and all have probably had sex. Nick even admitted that he wore one without really understanding what it represented, and Selena doesn't regret taking off her promise ring either.
You Could Internalize Some Seriously Slut Shaming NonsenseYou might not see this as dangerous, but it is. Abstinence has a tendency to smother sexuality, especially women's sexuality, with purity BS. Break that purity? You're a slut. You're dirty. You're a pariah. That kind of mindset can lead to depression, anxiety, isolation, and an unhealthy attitude toward sex. Not great for teens who are already pretty emotionally volatile. "Judgements" by Rosea Lake
You're Not Going To Suddenly Stop Wanting To Act On Sexual FeelingsTEENS ARE GOING TO WANT TO PUT THEIR THINGS INTO, ONTO, AROUND OTHER TEENAGERS BITS AND PIECES. Obviously not all of them do, and that's fine--I never once had sex in my teens--but acting as if wearing a piece of jewelry or making a pledge when you're 13-years-old is supposed to have a serious impact on the average person's sexual history is kind of a joke. Avoid sex before marriage for religious reasons if you want to, but it's important to know that only three percent of Americans manage to do that. It's not the end of the world to have sex, just be smart and safe about it. Sarah Wintner
Do you know anyone who was abstinent and ultimately ended up having sex anyway? What’s your take on abstinence in general? What about abstinence sex ed? Tell us in the comments!