Abstinence (or not engaging in sexual intercourse at all) has probably been the most im­portant factor in controlling fertility throughout history. However, over the last few years, there is some uncertainty about what “abstinence” really means. Although some would define abstinence as refraining from all sexual behaviors, including masturbation,

others might define it as abstaining from sexual intercourse or specific types of sexual contact (Kowal, 2004a). Most experts would define abstinence as refraining from en­gaging in sexual intercourse. With this definition, abstinence can be considered the only 100% effective method of contraception. Couples may choose abstinence to prevent pregnancy, to protect against STIs, or for other reasons such as illness or disease.



How effective is withdrawal as a form of birth control? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method?


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