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Graduate project: Blog 3: Abstinence: Why wait?

March 16, 2009


Topic of the week: Abstinence: Why wait?

Abstinence has become the in thing over the last 10 years. Teen role models celebrities such as Brittney Spears and Jessica Simpson made their virginity status public. Many teens now don rings that symbolize their choice to abstain from sex until marriage.

Why has abstinence become so popular lately? Perhaps seeing girls such as Jamie Lynn Spears get pregnant has made teens take a pause and deeply consider why they want to have sex. After all, choosing to or to not have sex is a big decision. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least four things I considered before I had sex.

1) I didn’t want to have sex with someone I didn’t love
2) I didn’t want to get an STD
3) I didn’t want to get pregnant
4) I didn’t want to be thought of as a slut

Skip to when I was 17 and finally had sex. I had been dating (translation: going to parties with) a boy I was very fond of. After one evening of watching mood-setting movies such as “Apt Pupil,” I decided it was time to have sex. At the time, I thought it was a great idea. After a couple of weeks, though, I began to worry about pregnancy (even though he used a condom), and if he had an STD. The friends I told thought I was dumb. Luckily, I dated him (off an on) for six years, and I did not get pregnant or catch an STD…but people thought I was easy through the rest of high school.

It’s difficult to be certain when you are ready.

While I wish I hadn’t had sex when I first did, I still don’t regret not waiting until marriage. However, Melissa, a teen from Wisconsin, says she is content with her decision to abstain from sex until marriage for multiple reasons.

“One reason is for religious reasons. The other reason has to do with the fact that I don’t think I could handle the guilt that would go through me. I also think I would stress that no matter how much birth control I used that I would never be 100 percent sure I was not pregnant until I got my period.”

Melissa’s convictions to abstain are definitely stronger than mine were, and I respect her for her strength to wait, but her reasoning is not so unusual.’s “Abstinence: A guide for teens,” page says many teens choose to be abstinent because it protects them from contracting STDs and is “100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.”

So, what should teens do if they decide to have sex before marriage, and how do they know they are ready?

Teens should only have sex when they can fully accept an STD, getting pregnant or having an abortion, and a family meltdown, says Monica, a teen from California.

Crystal, a teen from Kansas, thought similarly to Monica, and says she was ready to have sex because she was prepared for what could happen. “I was ready to have a kid if it was ever to happen, and I love my boyfriend.”

Teens are probably never truly prepared to engage in sexual activity, but they tend to anyway, says Andrea, a teen from Missouri. Andrea says teens should only have sex if they are in a long-term committed relationship and can handle the emotional risk that comes with sex.

Decisions, decisions. It’s truly hard to figure out when you are ready to have sex. I wish I had waited because of the worry I felt after having sex. Apparently, a lot of teens wish they would have waited, too. said “3 out of 4 girls who have had sex wish they had waited longer before having sexual intercourse.”

Think about that statistic before you have sex. Are you really ready to go to the health clinic to get birth control or condoms? Are you ready to get regular STD checks? Possibly take a pregnancy test?

So, when did you know you were ready or why did you wait?

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