10 Arguments for Abstinence: Pros and Cons of the Abstinence Debate

Is Abstinence the Best Way to Prevent Teen Pregnancy?

Serious looking teenage couple leaning back to back on couch

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Approaches to teenage pregnancy prevention are split between two schools of thought:

  • Abstinence (waiting until marriage to have sex)
  • Sex education (including contraceptive information and HIV prevention)

Both sides argue that their approach is effective, especially in light of the continuing decline in teen pregnancy rates and teen birth rates. Whether that's true, one fact is clear: The rates in recent years have hit record lows.

So is this due to the push in abstinence-only education programs, or in broader and more comprehensive sex education programs that provide teens with information about contraception and HIV prevention?

To consider the role of abstinence or sex education in teenage pregnancy prevention, it helps to consider both sides of the argument. Below are 10 arguments for abstinence as the best form of pregnancy prevention for teens. And you can also find 10 arguments against abstinence—a total of 20 arguments representing each perspective on the abstinence/sex education debate.

10 Arguments for Abstinence

  1. Abstinence from sex is the only form of pregnancy prevention that is 100% effective. Every method of contraception has a risk of failure, however, small, but a teen who practices abstinence will never become pregnant.
  2. Teens who abstain from sexual activity also avoid the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  3. Teens who practice abstinence are much less likely to experience a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, drop out of high school, engage in substance abuse, or feel pressured into having sex—all risk factors for teens who explore and become sexually active at an early age.
  4. A teen who practices abstinence and is in a romantic relationship is secure in the knowledge that their partner is not interested in them purely for sex—a concern of many teens.
  5. Some studies indicate that couples enjoy greater relationship satisfaction when they delay having sex until they are seriously dating, engaged or married.
  6. Teens are at a stage in life in which they're already emotionally vulnerable. Getting involved in a sexual relationship increases that vulnerability and the chances of being hurt or used by a partner. By abstaining from sex, it's a lot easier to figure out if a relationship or a person is good for you.
  7. Studies have revealed a connection between low self-esteem and early sexual activity. A teen who deliberately chooses to wait to have sexual intercourse is less likely to look to a relationship for validation and may be more self-reliant.
  8. Some teens use sex as a way to achieve intimacy and closeness with someone, but this is an artificial way of doing so. Teens who practice abstinence build relationships with partners based on mutual likes and dislikes, common approaches to life, and shared interests and develop a more authentic relationship that can better stand the test of time.
  9. Abstinence may help students do better in school. According to studies by the American Journal of Health, students in abstinence-only education programs demonstrate "better GPAs and improved verbal and numerical aptitude skills ... stronger peer relations, positive youth development, and ... [greater] aware[ness] of the consequences of risky behavior, such as teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases."
  10. Abstinence costs nothing and there are no side effects as there are with oral contraceptives and many other forms of pregnancy prevention.


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Your Citation
Lowen, Linda. "10 Arguments for Abstinence: Pros and Cons of the Abstinence Debate." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/arguments-for-abstinence-3533766. Lowen, Linda. (2021, February 16). 10 Arguments for Abstinence: Pros and Cons of the Abstinence Debate. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/arguments-for-abstinence-3533766 Lowen, Linda. "10 Arguments for Abstinence: Pros and Cons of the Abstinence Debate." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/arguments-for-abstinence-3533766 (accessed May 11, 2021).