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Abstinence doesn't necessarily reduce sexual risk taking, study finds

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Many sex education classes focus on teaching children the importance of abstinence thinking that delaying delaying sexual intercourse will reduce their odds of having multiple sexual partners and limit their chances of receiving a positive STD test. However, a new study suggests that things might not always work out this way.

A team of researchers from the University of South Florida analyzed the results of a study conducted among a group of twins. The age of first sexual encounter often varied among each twin, but the degree of risky sexual behavior was mainly uniform among each pair. It made little difference whether or not they delayed having sex for the first time.

"The underlying assumption is that delay reduces sexual risk-taking" said Marina A. Bornovalova, who led the study. "If they just wait, then they'll be less likely to have multiple partners or get pregnant early. But if our goal is to reduce sexual risk-taking, we need to be focusing on something else."

She suggested that genetic factors like an inherited propensity for risk taking as well as environmental factors like poverty and a troubled family all may make a person more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors.

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