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Abstinence and outercourse are safe, effective, and free ways to prevent pregnancy. But some people have a hard time avoiding sex.

Abstinence and outercourse have lots of benefits.

Both abstinence and outercourse are simple, free, and work really well to prevent pregnancy. In fact, abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs. And outercourse really lowers your risk a lot.

There are other benefits of abstinence. People choose abstinence to:

  • wait until they feel ready for a sexual relationship

  • wait to find the right partner

  • enjoy their partner’s company without having to deal with a sexual relationship

  • focus on school, their job, or hobbies

  • follow their personal, moral, or religious beliefs and values

  • get over a breakup

  • heal from the death of a partner

  • follow their doctor’s advice during or after a sickness, infection, or medical procedure

Outercourse has benefits, too. It can:

  • let couples give each other sexual pleasure without causing pregnancy or spreading STDs

  • increase trust and closeness between partners

  • prevent pregnancy if you don’t have another kind of birth control available

  • help you better understand your (and your partner’s) body

  • help you learn how you (and your partner) like to be touched and what feels good

Abstinence and outercourse have special advantages for teens and younger people. Abstinence is a great way to avoid the risks that come with sex — like pregnancy and STDs — until you’re ready to prevent and/or handle them. Abstinence can also help you focus on things that are most important to you, like friends, school, sports, activities, having fun, and planning for your future. People who hold off on having sex in their teens and have fewer sexual partners in their lifetime are less likely to get an STD.

Abstinence and outercourse have some disadvantages.

While abstinence and outercourse are super-effective ways to prevent pregnancy and STDs, avoiding sex can be hard for some people. And if you plan on being abstinent but end up having vaginal sex, pregnancy can happen if you don’t use birth control.

Most people end up having sexual contact with another person at some point in their lives. That’s why it’s a good idea to always have a backup birth control plan, like keeping condoms around. And condoms are the only birth control method that also help protect you from STDs.

Outercourse can have some disadvantages, too. Some types of outercourse can spread STDs. And even though it’s rare, if semen gets on a vulva or in a vagina during outercourse, pregnancy can happen.

Many people find it hard to avoid vaginal sex when they’re doing other sexual activities. Sometimes people using outercourse to prevent pregnancy don’t have a backup birth control plan ready. If they get caught up in the heat of the moment and have unprotected sex, it can lead to pregnancy and spread STDs.

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Abstinence and Outercourse

  • 100% effective

  • Cost is $0

  • Dedication required

  • Takes willpower

Also protects you from STDs
See All Methods