Research Paper: Birth Control and Abstinence

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[. . .] Although a lot of other methods discussed above can have high success rates if used as they should be, they cannot succeed frequently. Their success depends on the sort of birth control used. The practice of abstinence, however, guarantees that a female has no chance of becoming pregnant as no opportunity is provided to the sperm to join with an egg (Macones).

As far as the benefits of sexual abstinence are concerned, it surely protects people against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some STDs spread in the course of oral-genital sex or even via close skin-to-skin contact with no real penetration of male penis into female vagina. Herpes and genital warts spread in the same way. It means that if one avoids all types of intimate genital contacts, he/she would have no chance of getting any STDs. This avoidance of all types of intimate genital contact is actually called complete abstinence (Macones).

It is important to mention here that if an individual practices complete and consistent abstinence, only then he/she can prevent pregnancy and get protection against STDs. This is because when a person does not get involved in any type of intimate sexual contact, practicing complete abstinence, he/she has no risk of forwarding a sexually transmitted disease or infection. Consistent abstinence simply means that the person puts abstinence into practice incessantly. To have sex even once is risky as one can get an infection anytime. However, AIDS and Hepatitis B infections cannot be prevented by abstinence as they are the resultant of nonsexual activities like using infected needles, tattooing, or intake of steroids (Macones).

As compared to birth control methods, abstinence seems an easier option as one doesn't have to do anything while practicing it. However, it is a really difficult task as the decision to practice abstinence is hindered by peer pressure and sex-related things one watches on the television, in movies or on Internet. The teenagers, in particular, feel that in order to be accepted, they need to be involved in sexual activities as they see every other person having sex. The young generation needs to understand that they must not be pushed by friends, partners, or even the media into something that is not suitable for them. Two people can be in a relationship without getting indulged in sexual activities. Having or not having sex is a personal choice so the people who care must respect this decision (Macones). Just as choosing what birth control method is important, similarly the choice to practice abstinence is also an important decision.

Young people are all the time bombarded by the conventional media with sexually explicit messages. Television programs and even the commercials repeatedly feature couples having sex before marriage and sexually stimulating content that obviously gives the impression that all young people are sexually vigorous before the wed lock. However, it is good news that even though the media targets its young audiences with sex-saturated programs and information, a majority of youngsters opts for abstinence instead of being sexually active and using birth control methods (Maher).

The facts and statistics reveal that the youngsters today deeply value sexual abstinence. This must not come as a surprise as a majority of teenagers view abstinence in a favorable way. In a recent survey, approximately 94% of the teens believed that it is the responsibility of the society to give a strong message to the teens regarding abstinence from sex until at least after high school. Moreover, a good number of teens think highly of virginity. Two studies point towards the contribution of to the twenty four percent decline (1994-2003) in premarital teen birthrates.

The best example in this regard is that of Uganda where both abstinence and monogamy helped in the reduction of the spread of AIDS. Uganda was unfortunate as during the 1980 decade, the HIV infections in the country reached epidemic proportions. However, the HIV infection rates declined to six percent from twenty one percent in the 1990s. This miraculous change happened after President Museveni initiated a mass education campaign that promoted a three-step AIDS prevention message including the "abstinence from sexual activity until marriage; monogamy within marriage; and condoms as a last resort" (Maher). This message gained popularity as "ABC: Abstain, be faithful, and use Condoms" (Maher) in case of the failure of A and B. Most reports reveal that the success of this program was not due to the usage of condoms but mainly because of monogamy and abstinence. A Science Study conducted in 2004 presented the conclusion which stated that "abstinence among young people and monogamy, rather than condom use, contributed to the decline of AIDS in Uganda" (Maher).

Thus, it is crystal clear that the long-lasting consequences (negative) of sex before marriage including out-of-wedlock pregnancy, STDs, psychological problems, promiscuity, and future marital fragmentation can be avoided by the help of practicing abstinence. On the other hand, the sexually transmitted diseases are not prevented by using the birth control pills. When the pills are typically used, the reports show that they have an eight percent failure rate when it comes to the issue of prevention of pregnancy. Condoms, when typically used, are also found to have a fifteen percent failure rate in preventing pregnancy. Moreover, their effectiveness in protection against STDs is also limited. The NIH study conducted a study, according to which, the correct and consistent use of condoms diminished the risk of gonorrhea in men. It also provided an 85% reduction in HIV / AIDS transmission between both men and women. However, no evidence was found by this study regarding the condoms helping in the prevention of 6 other sexually transmitted diseases including Chlamydia, genital herpes, and syphilis. Moreover, the youngsters in particular, do not know the right method to use condoms (Maher).

The claim that abstinence is the only 100% certain method for avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is frequently heard. In lots of ratings of the usefulness and success of birth-control methods, abstinence is characterized "as being as effective as hysterectomy and more effective than vasectomy" (Hanson). However, such statements are not entirely correct. This is because even perfect self-denial from sex does not guarantee it completely that sexually transmitted diseases would not affect the individual. The reason is a number of STDs can be transmitted via other manners such as tattooing, use of contaminated syringes/needles etc. Moreover, there is also a likelihood of becoming pregnant while remaining abstinent in some cases. There are chances that semen can rarely make contact with the vagina even without access to the vagina. However, this claim is true "for each case where one could perform a sexual act, not performing one will avoid the consequences of performing sexual acts" (Hanson).

Some people also practice "periodic abstinence" to protect against pregnancy. It means that they do not have sexual intercourse during those days of the month while the female is most fertile. This type of abstinence is also known as "natural family planning." Some religions and cultures in which birth control methods are disapproved allow periodic abstinence. However, the effectiveness of periodic abstinence varies widely, particularly depending on the couple's readiness and compliance to stick to the plan ("Birth Control: What's Right for You?").

People who try to practice abstinence can fail and do fail. Some cases even result in pregnancy. This is astonishing that this fact is neglected. Abstinence is either graded on the top or is attributed as the 100-percent-effective birth control method. Giving such a special attention to abstinence is confusing and to a certain extent maybe risky (Hanson).

On the other hand, when a couple decides to avoid having sexual intercourse as a means of birth control and become successful, it means that they used abstinence appropriately and correctly as their method of birth control as they attain 100% success at preventing pregnancy.

Conclusion

To cut a long story short, where abstinence means not to have sex; birth control methods means how to have sex ("The ABC's of Teen" A21). Both birth control methods and sexual abstinence are useful in their own ways. However, their disadvantages and side-effects should not be ignored. To practice moderation is the best policy in this regard.

References

"Birth Control." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2009. Questia. Web. 25 July 2012. READ MORE --> [END OF PREVIEW]

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Birth Control and Abstinence.  (2012, July 26).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/birth-control-abstinence/8024580

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"Birth Control and Abstinence."  Essaytown.com.  July 26, 2012.  Accessed July 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/birth-control-abstinence/8024580.