This research study, published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, examines the effectiveness of “virginity pledges” in reducing STD infection rates among adolescents.
Many abstinence only sexual health education programs encourage adolescents to make pledges to remain virgins until marriage. The researchers postulate that sexually active pledgers have a greater incentive to hide that they are having sex and may have less important interactions with individuals who can provide STD education and contraception such as health professionals, pharmacists and family and friends.
The researchers obtained data from respondents ranging from 18-23 years old from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Participants were asked questions about their pledge status, STD status and sexual and health behaviors.
The results showed that:
- There was no significant differences in STD infection rates between pledgers and non-pledgers
- Pledgers have their first sexual experience later, have less partners, have less cumulative exposure, and lower numbers of non-monogamous partners.
- Most pledgers do end up having premarital sex
- Pledgers report lower frequency of condom use during first sexual intercourse
- Pledging does not seem effective in stopping STD acquisition
Bruckner, H. and P. Bearman. After the Promise – STD Consequences of Adolescent Virginity Pledges. 2005. The Journal of Adolescent Health. 36. 271-278.