Abstinence means choosing not to have sexual intercourse and is a common practice all over the world. Women and men of all ages deliberately choose not to have sex. Abstinence is a normal, common, and acceptable alternative to sexual activity.
Although some use only sexual behavior to express their affection, sexual expression does not have to include intercourse. Romance includes many non-sexual activities that provide couples with pleasure and meaning. A walk with someone on the beach, exchanging gifts, or watching a movie together are activities many find just as meaningful as sex. A "no" to sexual activity can also be a "yes" to deeper communication and mutual appreciation.
You don't have to be a virgin to practice abstinence. Anyone who has been having sex can still choose abstinence to prevent pregnancy and STDs in the future.
Human nature is such that sexual activity is intimately linked to one's emotional and psychological state. The practice of abstinence enables couples to exercise fidelity within a relationship. Many find that sexual activity is best when accompanied by the deep commitment of marriage and openness to the possibility of children. Not everyone is ready for this kind of commitment and total self-giving. For this reason, many women and men choose to abstain.
Many people have their own definitions of sexual abstinence. Although there are some types of sexual activity which do not result in pregnancy, these are still a form of sex, most of which can also transmit disease. True abstinence means to refrain from sexual contact of any sort, including: genital intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, dry sex (a.k.a. grinding or outercourse), mutual masturbation, or any other physically intimate activity done for the purpose of sexual gratification. One good rule of thumb for those who are unsure, is to ask yourself if the behavior in question can only be done in private.
Abstinence is superb contraception, not to mention everyone's first method. Although sexual drives can be strong, people have the ability to control their sexual urges. Yet many unmarried couples find it easier said than done. For young people especially, it might be easier if high pressure situations, like automobile back seats or empty dorm rooms, are avoided. Abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy. It is also prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.