1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Tips on Maintaining Abstinence

How to Say No!

By

Updated June 18, 2014

It is your decision to practice abstinence. You are the one in control, and you always have the choice to decide to hold off from having a sexual relationship. Abstinence is the only contraceptive that is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In a relationship, abstinence will only work when both partners agree to it. Remember, that in time, your relationship may change; your decision to be abstinent may change as well -- this, too, is okay. The choice is always yours!

Decide What You Want to Do About Sex

It is important that you decide what you want to do about sex at a time when you are feeling clearheaded, sober, and good about yourself. Try to be clear about your reasons for wanting to practice abstinence. This way, if you find yourself in a sexual situation, you can remind yourself why you made the decision to be abstinent.

Make Sexual Decisions in Advance

It is helpful to decide in advance what sexual activities (if any) you would be willing to participate in. Take time to consider exactly what being abstinent will mean for you. It is also beneficial to plan (in advance) how you will say "no" to sexual activities, or how you can avoid getting yourself into potential sexual situations. Think about behavioral cues or words that will convey your abstinence decision (even practice saying your decision and protests out loud).

Talk to Your Partner

Make sure you tell your partner, clearly and in advance, what you are and are not willing to participate in. Try to have this discussion before things get sexual as it may be difficult to be clear about what you want when you are aroused. Be honest about your feelings and values as well as being straightforward about the limits you are setting.

Avoid High-Pressure Situations

Try to stay away from situations where it may be hard to say no (such as an empty house or the backseat of a car). It is also helpful to stay sober when with possible partners (as using alcohol or drugs may cloud your decision and judgment). Be aware of settings that could potentially challenge your decision to remain abstinent and make a plan on how to avoid these situations.

Say "No" Like You Mean It!

If you find yourself in a compromising situation, say no clearly and mean it. Abstinence may be particularly challenging in times like these. Try to remember your plan on how to say "no" forcefully. If you find yourself wavering, think about the consequences of your behavior and the reasons why you chose to be abstinent. Try your hardest to not reevaluate or question your decision to practice abstinence while you are in a sexual situation. Do your best to follow through with your decision until you are in a situation where you are able to think about it and re-assess your decision with a clear head (and no pressure).

Learn About Your Body

Many people have told me that understanding your body and knowing ways to keep it healthy is helpful in maintaining your decision of abstinence. Learn about sexually transmitted infections as not all have cures or treatment. Some STDs, like herpes will last your whole life, and HIV can lead to AIDS, which can cause death. This can help to reaffirm your decision. Also, research has shown that women who practice abstinence into their 20's may have specific health advantages over women who do not. Abstinence lowers their likelihood of becoming infertile, developing cervical cancer, and contracting a STD.

Educate Yourself About Birth Control and Safe Sex

Although you have chosen to practice abstinence, it is beneficial to know that most people are not prepared to protect themselves against pregnancy or infection when they have chosen to end their abstinence. By learning about the various contraceptive methods available and how to access them, you will be ready should you change your mind.

Find out About Emergency Contraception

It is very important that you find out, now, about emergency birth control options just incase you have sexual intercourse when you were not planning to or expect to. Your intention may be to practice abstinence; however, sometimes it is very hard to predict how you may act when presented with a tempting sexual partner. There are contraceptives available that can be taken up to a few days after unprotected intercourse that are effective in preventing pregnancy. Plan B One-Step and Next Choice can be easily obtained without a prescription. Do your research and find out ahead of time where you can obtain these emergency birth control options while you are thinking soundly instead of panicking after the fact.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.