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Here are some of the most common questions we hear people ask about withdrawal, or the pull out method.
A man who uses withdrawal will pull his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation — the moment when semen spurts out of his penis. Withdrawal is also known as coitus interruptus and the pull out method.
Withdrawal may be the world's oldest way to practice birth control. About 35 million couples worldwide rely on withdrawal.
Withdrawal prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm out of the vagina. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no sperm present.
Effectiveness is an important and common concern when choosing a birth control method. Like all birth control methods, the pull out method is much more effective when you do it correctly.
Couples who have great self-control, experience, and trust may use the pull out method more effectively. Men who use the pull out method must be able to know when they are reaching the point in sexual excitement when ejaculation can no longer be stopped or postponed. If you cannot predict this moment accurately, withdrawal will not be as effective.
Even if a man pulls out in time, pregnancy can still happen. Some experts believe that pre-ejaculate, or pre-cum, can pick up enough sperm left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to cause pregnancy. If a man urinates between ejaculations before having sex again, it will help clear the urethra of sperm and may increase the effectiveness of withdrawal.
Pregnancy is also possible if semen or pre-ejaculate is spilled on the vulva.
Keep in mind that the withdrawal method does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. Use a latex condom or female condom to reduce the risk of infection.
Anyone can use withdrawal safely — there are no side effects.
The pull out method is safe, simple, and convenient. Women and men like it because
There are a few risks to using withdrawal as your only form of birth control. The biggest disadvantage is the risk of using withdrawal incorrectly.
During sex, the man withdraws his penis from the vagina when he feels he is about to ejaculate, or before he reaches that point. He ejaculates, or comes, outside the vagina, being careful that semen does not spill onto his partner's vulva.
Men who want to use the pull out method need to understand their own sexual response. They need to know when they reach the point in sexual excitement when ejaculation can no longer be stopped or postponed.
There are many other methods available if withdrawal is not right for you. If you need help choosing a method, we're here to help. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can talk with you and help you get the birth control method that's best for you.
Q&A with Dr. Cullins