How effective is abstinence education in the prevention of gonorrhea?

Updated: Sep 07, 2018
  • Author: Brian Wong, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

Although the most effective STD prevention is abstinence from sex, this is oftentimes an unrealistic expectation, especially in the teenaged population. In fact, 88% of teenagers who pledged abstinence in middle and high school still engaged in premarital sex. Moreover, they tend to have riskier, unprotected sex because of their lack of education. Those who pledge before having sex have been found to have a 33% higher prevalence rate of STDs than have those who had sex and then retrospectively pledged, with nonpledgers falling in between. This is despite a lower number of partners and an older age at first intercourse in pledgers.

Moreover, pledgers are less likely to be aware of their STD status and are less likely to seek testing, even if their STD rates are similar overall (again, highlighting a lack of appropriate sexual education).

Of course, abstinence should be explained to be the best option, but a more practical expectation is abstinence from sex with someone known or suspected of having an STD until treatment is obtained and completed. In light of the difficulty of knowing a potential partner's sexual history (or honesty), strongly recommend the use of condoms as a reasonable alternative to abstinence. [13]


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