Abstinence From Sex Until Marriage A Challenging Goal? More People are Choosing Not to Marry at All

Abstinence from Sex Until Marriage A Challenging Goal? More People are choosing

STD incidence rates remain high in most of the world, despite diagnostic and therapeutic advances that can rapidly render patients with many STDs noninfectious and cure most. In many cultures, changing sexual mores and oral contraceptive use have eliminated traditional sexual restraints, especially for women, and both physicians and patients have difficulty dealing openly and candidly with sexual issues.


Promoting abstinence does not work after an adolescent has become sexually active," says Dr. Peralta. She says that is why it is very important for young people to learn about and have access to birth control hormonal methods, as well as the male and female condoms so they can prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Nearly everyone in the US has sex before marriage, a new survey shows.

And contrary to popular belief, chastity before one's wedding day was a rarity in the 1950s and early '60s, too. "I think probably many of them weren't talking about it, but certainly some of them were doing it," Dr. Lawrence Finer of The Guttmacher Institute in New York City, the study's author, told Reuters Health.

Finer was prompted to do the study by increasingly widespread public and private efforts to promote abstinence until marriage. "Our motivation," he said, "was to say -- is this a goal that can realistically be achieved; does this approach make sense?"

To investigate, he analyzed the results of four waves of the National Survey of Family Growth conducted between 1982 and 2002, including a total of 39,837 men and women.

Among people surveyed in 2002, 75 percent reported having had sex before marriage by age 20, while 93 percent had done so by age 30 and 95 percent had by age 40.

Premarital sex at a relatively young age was less common among older people; for example, 48 percent of women who reached age 15 between 1954 and 1963 reported having had premarital sex by age 20, compared to 64 percent of women who turned 15 in 1964-1973, 72 percent of women who turned 15 in 1974-1983, and 76 percent of women who turned 15 in 1984-1993.

But by age 40, Finer found, 85 percent of the oldest women in the study reported having had premarital or non-marital sex.

The survey also showed that the age that people had sex for the first time fell from 20.4 for women who turned 15 in 1954-1963 to 17.3 for those who turned 15 in 1984-1993, and then increased slightly to 17.6 for people turning 15 in 1994-2003.

What makes abstinence until marriage efforts more difficult, Finer noted, is that people are getting married later than they used to, and more and more people are choosing not to marry at all.

"Evidence from the past 50 years suggests that establishing abstinence until marriage as normative behavior is a challenging goal," Finer concludes in his report.

"These findings argue for education and interventions that provide young people with the skills and information they need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases once they become sexually active."

Study clearly shows how important it is for adolescents to have access to quality healthcare. Physicians, nurses, and clinicians can provide information to teens about their sexual development and the different birth control options available, including some of the newer methods like a monthly shot, a hormone patch and a vaginal ring, " says Ligia Peralta, M.D., head of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. Of the five countries studied, access to health care services and contraception is most limited in the United States, where 20 percent of teenagers don't have health insurance

Sex is a staple of news, entertainment and advertising. It's often hard to avoid this ever-present topic. But when parents and children need to talk, it isn't always so easy.Sex education is a parent's responsibility. By reinforcing and supplementing what your child learns in school, you can help your child make good decisions about sex.

“I DO” IS GOOD FOR YOU

Want to live longer and be happier? Consider getting married. According to medical experts, marriage can actually be good for your health. People in a stable marriage live longer, are happier and are less prone to illness than their single counterparts, according to David Mallott, M.D., a University of Maryland psychiatrist. He adds that married people also are less likely to commit suicide or develop serious emotional problems. Even after the first blush of romance fades, couples provide companionship and "soothing support," which promotes emotional and physical well being. Dr. Mallott says the bond is so strong that in some cases when an elderly person dies the grieving spouse dies shortly thereafter. “Living with somebody, and problem-solving with somebody is better overall for most people,” he said. “We probably all underestimate the power of the relationship.”

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