What is the withdrawal method?

The withdrawal or "pull out" method is a form of (not so great) birth control where the man withdraws his penis from the vagina just before he ejaculates in the hope that entry of the ejaculate into the vagina and cervix, and therefore eventual fertilization, will be prevented.

Does the withdrawal method really prevent pregnancy?

The effectiveness of the withdrawal method depends on a man's ability to withdraw before ejaculation. Unfortunately, because this method requires great self-control and experience, this is not a very effective or recommended birth control method.

It is important to note that:

  • Pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) often contains a lot of sperm that can result in pregnancy.
  • The pre-ejaculate can enter the vagina and cervix before his orgasm and actual ejaculation. Therefore, a good amount of sperm can come into contact with or enter the vagina making pregnancy a possibility.

What are the disadvantages of the withdrawal method?

There is a high risk of pregnancy and STI exposure. Withdrawal does not provide protection from STIs, including HIV, and infectious diseases. These can be transmitted by direct contact with surface lesions or by pre-ejaculatory fluid, especially herpes or HIV.

Withdrawal also interrupts the act of sex and there is no guarantee that a man can "pull out" in time. Pregnancy failure rates under typical use are at 25%.

What are the advantages of the withdrawal method?

It is always available. So, in the case where a couple did not use adequate protection against pregnancy, using the withdrawal method probably decreases the risk of pregnancy.

Learn more about other birth control methods in our Birth Control Guide!

Read More:
Vaginal Ring
How To Choose A Birth Control Pill
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The Birth Control Patch 
Cervical Cap