Abstinence is not having sex. A person who decides to practice abstinence has decided not to have sex.couple

How Does It Work?

If two people don’t have sex, then sperm can’t fertilize an egg and there’s no possibility of a pregnancy. Some forms of birth control depend on barriers that prevent the sperm from reaching the egg (such as condoms or diaphragms). Others interfere with the menstrual cycle (as birth control pills do). With abstinence, no barriers or pills are necessary because the person is not having sex.

You don’t have to be a virgin to practice abstinence. Sometimes people who have been having sex decide not to continue having sex. Even if a person has been having sex, he or she can still choose abstinence to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How Well Does It Work?

Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Although many birth control methods can have high rates of success if used properly, they can fail occasionally. Practicing abstinence ensures that a girl will not become pregnant because there is no opportunity for sperm to fertilize an egg.

Before You Decide to Have Sex

  • Decide first if you are in a healthy relationship.
  • Trust yourself – If waiting seems to be an idea that might work for you, list some reasons why. Decisions based on your own reasons are easier to stick to.
  • Make your own decision
    • Recognize pressures that can cause you to ignore your own feelings.
    • Be aware of the impact of a sexual relationship can have on your life.
    • Know how much time and attention a sexual relationship can take.
    • Consider abstinence a reasonable option
    • Make conscious decisions that consider all factors.

Sexual Assault

Rape is defined as forced sexual intercourse; force may involve psychological coercion (being “talked into it”) as well as physical violence. This includes situations where the victim may be drunk, drugged, asleep, unconscious, or for any reason unable to say yes or no. It doesn’t matter if a girl dresses sexy or a guy is really “bombed,” sex without proper consent is RAPE. Period.

Additional information about Date Myths & Facts can be found on the Smarter Sex website.

Being Safe On Campus

Several things affect your safety on campus. Each campus is different. However, sexual assaults happen everywhere and can be committed by anyone. Just because someone looks like you and “seems” nice does not mean they are incapable of rape. Below are several things to keep in mind while on campus and in settings where alcohol is involved to avoid sexual assault.

On campus housing:

  • Always lock your door. Never prop your door open if you leave or are asleep.
  • Know your res hall. The dorms at PSU require quests to sign in and out. The doors to our Res Halls are always locked-don’t let strangers in.
  • Your dorm room should be as safe as a hotel or apartment. This isn’t mom and dad’s house!

On Campus:

  • If you are on campus late at night, use the campus shuttle. Know where the emergency phones are. You can call University Police to have them escort you to your Res Hall.
  • Walk home with a friend that you know well.
  • Avoid short cuts that are not well lit or are surrounded by bushes or other obstacles that may hinder your view.
  • If you commute to school and are on campus late at night, make sure you park in a well-lit area. Avoid walking to your car alone.
  • Check the back seat of your car before getting inside to make sure no one is hiding inside.

Safety at Parties

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you are planning to drink, bring a friend with you and leave with that same person. Know how you are going to get home.
  • Date rape drugs, such as GHB or “roofies” are present on college campuses. If someone offers to get you a drink, go with him or her and watch him or her pour it. Never accept a drink from a random person. Keep an eye on your drink, don’t set your cup down to dance and come back to finish it later. You are better off wasting a drink then getting wasted and putting your safety at risk.
  • Avoid being alone and be careful whom you invite back to your room. Do you really know this person? He may look like you, dress like you, even be best friends with your best friend, but do you really know him/her after one night?
  • If you start to feel strange or unusually intoxicated, seek help from a friend. A stranger who offers to help you or escort you from the event could be someone who’s slipped you a drug and plans to do you harm.
  • Avoid excessive drinking. Too much alcohol can affect your judgment.

Safety on Dates

As you know by now, the majority of rapes occur by people you know. If you are on a date with a stranger, meet the person in a public place and avoid being alone. You may be daydreaming about your next date, but your date may have different intentions. Get to know each other before you invite your date “upstairs”; not only is it a safer option, it also will mean that your relationship will be based on more than just sex.


What are your choices? There are several ways to protect yourself and your partner from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The following links will give you information about several different kinds of contraceptives available in the United States (Information from Planned Parenthood).

  • Abstinence
  • Withdrawal
  • Rhythm/Calendar Method
  • Condom
  • Diaphragm
  • Cervical Cap
  • Female Condom
  • The Pill
  • The Patch
  • The Ring
  • Morning After Pill (MAP)
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD)
  • Depo-Provera
  • Sterilization

Abstinence is the only method that is 100% effective in the prevention of STDs and pregnancy.

Only a female condom and a latex or polyurethane condom may reduce the risk of STDs.


American Social Health Association

Emergency Contraception Website

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US

Sex, Etc.

CDC National Prevention Information Network

Planned Parenthood

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US

Gay & Lesbian National Hotline

GLBT Health Webpages

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