Report: Abstinence doesn’t deter unsafe sex later on

A recent study led by psychologist Marina A. Bornovalova at the University of South Florida argues that the belief that abstinence will encourage individuals to practice safe sex later on down the line is a misconception. Teenagers who abstain from sex are just as likely to have multiple partners, use drugs and/or alcohol during sex and forgo wearing a condom as teens who practice sex earlier.

"The underlying assumption is that delay reduces sexual risk-taking," as well as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, said Bornovalova. "If they just wait, then they'll be less likely to have multiple partners or get pregnant early. But until now, no one had tested this assumption."

Bornovalova and her team of researchers examined 1,000 pairs of twins who were part of the Minnesota Twin Family Study. When the participants enrolled in the program, they were 11 years old. The pairs analyzed by the team from the University of South Florida consisted of one sibling who abstained from sex and another who participated in sex earlier.

The researchers found that the twins who had sex earlier, around age 15, were just as likely to take risks in the bedroom as their counterparts who waited until they were of age to have sex. The fact that the individuals studied were twins makes the results all the more compelling.

Researchers say that promiscuity is influenced by a number of factors, but abstinence in early adolescence doesn't seem to be one of them.

Condoms are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Teen sex education can help inform young people about the importance of safe sex. Those who want to know the answers to condom FAQs should consult a sexual health expert. 

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