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Sexual Development

About Withdrawal

Talking to your kids about sex can be daunting, no matter how close you are. But discussing issues like abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and birth control can help lower teens’ risk of an unintended pregnancy or contracting an STD.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports sex education that includes information about both abstinence and birth control. Research has shown that this information doesn’t increase kids’ level of sexual activity, but actually promotes and increases the proper use of birth control methods among sexually active teens.

How and when you discuss sex and birth control is up to you. Providing the facts is vital, but it’s also wise to tell your kids where you stand. Remember, by approaching these issues like any other health topics, not as something dirty or embarrassing, you increase the odds that your kids will feel comfortable coming to you with any questions and problems. As awkward as it might feel, answer questions honestly. And if you don’t know the answers, it’s OK to say so, then find out and report back.

If you have questions about how to talk with your son or daughter about sex, consider consulting your child’s doctor. Lots of parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some helpful perspective.

What Is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal, also called pulling out, is when a male removes his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates.

How Does Withdrawal Work?

Withdrawal is an attempt to keep sperm from entering the vagina by having the male ejaculate outside the vagina.

How Well Does Withdrawal Work?

Over the course of a year, about 27 out of 100 typical couples who rely on withdrawal to prevent pregnancy will have an accidental pregnancy. Of course, this is an average figure and the chance of getting pregnant depends on whether the couple uses this method correctly and every time they have sex.

Even for people who think they are doing it correctly, withdrawal is not an effective way to prevent pregnancy. Males leak a bit of sperm out of the penis even before ejaculation, which means that even if the male pulls out before he ejaculates, a girl can still become pregnant. Also, if the male ejaculates close to the outside of the vagina, the sperm can swim up into the vagina. However, withdrawal is considered a better method of contraception than none at all.

Protection Against STDs

Withdrawal does not protect against STDs. Couples having sex must always use condoms to protect against STDs even when using another method of birth control.

Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always prevents pregnancy and STDs.

More Information About Withdrawal

Withdrawal is not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. And it can be difficult for males to know exactly when they should pull out or to have the willpower to do so. Even if they do, some sperm will leak out of the penis before ejaculation, which can then result in pregnancy.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013