Ineffective Contraception


Average Failure Rate: 27%

Withdrawal, also known as coitus interruptus or "the pull-out method," has long been used for contraception as a natural response to the discovery that ejaculation into the vagina causes pregnancy. It requires no devices, involves no chemicals or artificial hormones, and is available in any situation at no cost.

How It Works

Withdrawal is accomplished when, during intercourse, the man pulls out his penis just before ejaculation. This requires much discipline. As orgasm is impending, a man may not withdraw in enough time to prevent semen from escaping into the vagina. Although withdrawal has no known side effects, interruption of the sexual response cycle can greatly diminish the pleasure of a couple. Some couples, however, have worked out these problems and use withdrawal successfully.

How Effective is Withdrawal?

This method is estimated to have a 27% failure rate annually among typical users. That means that every year, over 1 in 4 people using withdrawal as their only method of birth control will get pregnant. Failure rates will be lower for couples using withdrawal in combination with another method. Perfect users can expect a failure rate as low as 4%, which actually compares favorably to many other methods. See table of contraceptive failure rates... Withdrawal has a 31% annual failure rate for teens because they typically have less practice using this method effectively. More about birth control failure rates for teens and young adults...

Who Uses Withdrawal as Birth Control?

Withdrawal is most popular among teens, the age group for which this method is also least effective. Thirteen percent of high school students reported using withdrawal as their method of birth control during their last intercourse. Withdrawal requires self-control and practice, which teens often lack, resulting in the increased failure rate of 31% per year for this group. Withdrawal does not offer complete protection from STDs. Lubricating fluids escape long before ejaculation; usually they contain no sperm but can transmit diseases like the AIDS virus.

How To Use Withdrawal

To use withdrawal properly, a man should urinate before sex and wipe of the tip of his penis to remove any lingering sperm from a prior ejaculation. If the man is uncircumcised, a complete wash of the penis is a good idea. When he feels he is about to ejaculate, he should remove his penis from his partner's vagina. The man should make sure that ejaculation occurs away from his partner's vagina. Many consider withdrawal a poor method of birth control. This method is especially poor if the man cannot predict when he will ejaculate, or if he will want to have sex again within a short period of time, in which case sperm will probably be present in the pre-ejaculate.

Alternatives to Withdrawal

There are many other methods of birth control that are more effective than withdrawal, inexpensive, and drug-free. Natural family planning uses no chemicals or devices and is a better choice than the "pull-out" method. Condoms are easy to use, fairly inexpensive, and reduce the risk of STDs. Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.

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