Abstinent Teens Have STDs: Why Are We Shocked?

teenagersA recent study was released today saying that 10% of teens who were abstinent ironically had also contradicted a sexually transmitted disease, and people are shocked, shocked I tell ya, and I'm not really sure why. With abstinence programs on the rise, screaming out against intercourse but not necessarily sexual acts, kids may not be doing the deed, but by golly, they're doing something.

Fourteen thousand youth agreed to provide urine samples for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis testing, and 118 of them who claimed to never have had sexual intercourse came back with positive results. Sure the more likely transmission for these diseases are through full-fledged sex, but, hey guess what -- it is possible to acquire an STD without ever having penile-vaginal sex. Not exactly brand new information for us, right? Well, it actually is to a lot of teens because no one has told them otherwise.


To a teenager, abstinence can mean no vaginal intercourse, but other methods of play are free reign, causing them to inaccurately believe that they're safe from STDs. Even the abstinence programs themselves oftentimes suggest "outercourse" -- oral sex, body rubbing, etc. -- as a safe option. I know when I was preached to about "saving myself for marriage" in the 7th grade, they never lectured us about other sexual acts and the risks they also bring to the bedroom (or back of the car, movie theater, wherever). So, even though our teens may not be popping any cherries, this lack of education causes them to still be at risk for various diseases, leading to some serious awkward conversations with their doctors and parents. I mean, wouldn't you have a hard time believing your daughter was a virgin if you found out that she had an STD?

And unfortunately, this failure to completely educate teenagers about all sides of sex can lead to them having lifelong issues, carrying around and possibly spreading sexually transmitted diseases. Preach abstinence if you so choose, but please also get on your soapbox about the severe consequences of all sexual acts -- ones that teens may believe are "okay" and "safe" to perform unless you tell them otherwise.

Are you shocked that 10% of abstinent teens still have had an STD? If you promote abstinence to your teen, do you try to educate them about risks from other sexual acts?


Image via epSos.de/Flickr

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