Abstinence pledges increase risk of STDs and pregnancy in young women

Topic Selected: Sexual Health

General Article icon Type: General Article

By Léa Surugue

Young women who break an abstinence pledge may be more at risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than peers who have never taken such a pledge in the first place, scientists claim. In the United States, about 12% of adolescent girls vow not to have sex before marriage, but up to 88% of them end up breaking this promise.

In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, scientists have analysed the health data of more than 20,000 American teenagers to assess the impact that taking a virginity pledge has on female sexual health. In particular, they wanted to determine whether ‘pledgers’ were less likely to become pregnant outside marriage or to test positive for a common STD – the human papillomavirus (HPV).

In the US, sexual education is often a source of controversy. The CDC recommends in-school programmes focusing on the prevention of STDs and pregnancy, including educating on co

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