Abstinence refers to the act of voluntarily refraining from some desired behavior for a period of time, often for religious or health reasons. Although the term abstinence can be applied to any number of behaviors, when referring to adolescents it is typically used to mean avoiding certain sexual behaviors. Depending on the goals of abstaining, those behaviors that are excluded can vary. If the purpose is to avoid an unintended pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, abstinence involves refraining from those sexual behaviors that can put one at risk for those outcomes (e.g., unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse). If the purpose of abstinence is based on religious or moral values, it can involve refraining from a much wider range of behaviors that can include ...

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