Coping with sexual urges on your abstinence journey

Abstinence is one of the best ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs, but it can be hard at times. Here’s how to manage sexual urges when you’re abstinent. 

What is abstinence?

Abstinence is a decision to not have any kind of sexual intercourse. Sex includes vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Abstinence doesn’t mean you’ve “never had sex”. You can choose to be abstinent, even if you’ve had sex before. Many people decide to be abstinent on and off throughout their lives, for a lot of different reasons. Those reasons are completely valid and should be respected at all times.

Why choose abstinence?

You may have religious, cultural, or personal beliefs about abstinence. You might also decide to be abstinent for the following reasons;

Avoiding unplanned pregnancy – Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy if you practise it consistently.

STI prevention – Abstinence helps prevent sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs).

Focus on school, work, or life goals – You may feel pressured or worried that you’re “missing out” by not having sex right now. But it’s okay to focus on the things that are important to you.

Waiting until you’ve found the right person – It’s completely normal to want to wait to share sex with someone special in your life.

Talking to your partner about abstinence

If you’re already dating someone, and you decide to be abstinent (even if you’ve had sexual experiences with each other in the past), talk about your reasons with your partner. It’s important to be honest with each other. Never let anyone make you feel embarrassed or awkward about your choice.

It’s important to be honest with your partner about your abstinence journey upfront, communicate about it thoroughly and respect the feedback your partner gives you. This may or may not be a deal breaker for some. Keep in mind that sex isn’t the only way to be close with someone. Talking, listening, sharing, holding hands, kissing, and enjoying each other’s company are some other ways to build trust and closeness. Don’t ever feel pressured to break your promise to yourself, out of fear that you’ll lose your partner.

Coping with urges

Think about your reasons and why they’re important to you. It may be a good idea to avoid situations and activities that lead to arousal. It’s important to make your boundaries clear with your partner, and have these boundaries respected.

Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol is often associated with risky sexual behaviour such as having high sex, having multiple sex partners and not using a condom, which can lead to STIs and unplanned pregnancies.

It really helps to talk to someone you trust about any challenges you’re experiencing. You can reach out to a counsellor, or chat to me here.

Your partner may pressure you to “give in.” Your friends might try to make you feel embarrassed about your choices. And there’s probably a part of you that’s curious about sex, even if you don’t want to have it now. But it’s important to be honest with yourself about how you feel about sex. Even if it’s not your first time, always wait until you’re completely ready.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).