“Not right now” is our way of saying “no vaginal sex.” It’s a great method as far as effectiveness is concerned—if you use it 100% of the time, you’re guaranteed to not get pregnant. And if you’re avoiding sexual activity altogether, you’ll be safe from STIs too. But it does involve a whole lot of self-control.

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It takes discipline

Saying “not right now” only works as a birth control method if you do it consistently, so it takes a lot of self-control.

Good communication skills

If you’re dating or in a relationship, you’ll need to be able to tell your partner what’s okay and what’s not. Which means you need to be comfortable with speaking your mind.

You’ve got support

If you are in a relationship, you’ve both got to be down with the plan. But remember, saying “not right now” doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have fun. It’s actually a great excuse to get creative with your sex life.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out the above videos to hear people talk about their experiences saying, “Not right now.”

Waiting requires patience, but it doesn’t cost a thing. With all the money you save not buying birth control, you can buy yourself some new toys to make the time pass more quickly.

Don’t have vaginal sex.

Okay, we’re being cheeky. But that’s pretty much what it comes down to: A conscious, deliberate decision to not have vaginal sex. It’s a choice you’ll need to affirm each and every day. To stick with it, keep reminding yourself why you choose to not have vaginal sex, and think about the potential consequences of changing your decision. And if you decide to start having sex, that’s totally cool, too. Just make sure you’re protected with another form of birth control.

Other helpful hints:

  • Avoid putting yourself in situations where it’ll be hard to stick to your decision.
  • Think about avoiding alcohol and drugs as well—they can mess with your judgment.
  • Find people you can talk to about your decision and lean on their support.
  • Talk about your decision with your partner well before you’re in the heat of the moment.
  • Be totally straightforward and clear with him about your limits.
  • Explore other sexual options you might enjoy just as much.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.

The Positive

The Negative

  • Doesn’t cost a thing
  • Never causes side effects
  • Can be difficult to maintain
  • Hard to stick to the plan if you’re drunk

We’re here to get this method working better for you. And if it still doesn’t feel right, we’ve got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you’re thinking about having sex after a period of abstinence, make sure you find another method before you start having sex.

  • ...I'm nervous about telling the guy I'm dating that I'm not having sex right now.

    First and foremost, make sure you talk to him before you two are in the process of getting hot and heavy. Second, you might want to think before you talk to him about exactly how you want to explain your choice. Be honest about your reasons and clear about what you are and aren’t comfortable doing. If he’s a good match for you, he’ll respect your choice!

  • ...I'm seeing someone new and I'm really tempted to have sex with him.

    It’s perfectly natural to be attracted to someone, but if you’re seriously considering having sex after a period of abstinence, it’s important to take some time to think about your reasons for waiting.

    If you realize it’s still important to you not to have sex right now, you should talk to your new guy about your reasons and arrange firm limits on what you’re comfortable doing with him. On the other hand, if you were just waiting for the right guy and you think this is him, you should start looking into a birth control method that’s right for you.

    Either way, you might want to have some condoms and EC on hand just in case.

    Still not working?

    If “not right now” is no longer working for you, you should have a reliable method in mind (and in hand) before you start having sex. You might want to look into a long-acting reversible method like the IUD or the implant, or if you don’t want to commit to that quite yet, you could start with condoms and a hormonal method. And don’t forget, condoms are the only method that protects from STIs!

    Try a different method

quick facts /

  • If you don’t have sex, you won’t get pregnant. But you’ll need willpower.

  • “Not right now” is 100% effective if you really don’t have sex.

  • None.

  • You have to have a lot of control.

  • There’s nothing to get—other than the conviction to stick to it.

  • Free! Unless you count the cost of batteries :)