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Birth Control


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What Is It?

Withdrawal is when a guy removes his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates (also called coitus interruptus or pulling out).

How Does It Work?

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

How Well Does It Work?

Over the course of 1 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 you use this method correctly and every time you have sex.

Even for people who think they are doing it correctly, withdrawal is not an effective way to prevent pregnancy. Guys leak a bit of sperm out of the penis even before ejaculation, which means that even if a guy pulls out before he ejaculates, a girl can still become pregnant. Also, if a guy 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 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). For those having sex, condoms must always be used to protect against STDs.

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

Who Uses It?

Withdrawal is not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. Most guys have a difficult time knowing exactly when they should withdraw the penis or don’t have the willpower to pull out while they are having sex. And even if a guy does pull out, some sperm leak out of the penis before ejaculation, which can still get a girl pregnant.

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