Planned Parenthood

Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)

Withdrawal at a Glance

  • Withdrawal is also called coitus interruptus or the "pull out method"
  • Something you can do during vaginal intercourse to prevent pregnancy
  • Safe, easy, and convenient

Is Withdrawal Right for Me?

 Here are some of the most common questions we hear people ask about withdrawal, or the pull out method.

Expand All

What Is Withdrawal?

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.

How Does Withdrawal Work?

Withdrawal prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm out of the vagina. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no sperm present.

How Effective Is Withdrawal?

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.

  • Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 4 will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly.
  • Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don't always 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.

How Safe Is Withdrawal?

Anyone can use withdrawal safely — there are no side effects.

What Are the Benefits of Withdrawal?

The pull out method is safe, simple, and convenient. Women and men like it because

  • It can be used to prevent pregnancy when no other method is available.
  • There are no medical or hormonal side effects.
  • No prescription is necessary.
  • It is free.

The pull out method can also make other forms of birth control, such as the capcondomdiaphragm, or female condom, more effective.

What Are the Disadvantages of Withdrawal?

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.


  • requires great self-control, experience, and trust
  • is not for men who ejaculate prematurely
  • is not for men who don't know when to pull out
  • is not recommended for teens and sexually inexperienced men because it takes lots of experience before a man can be sure to know when he's going to ejaculate

How Do I Practice Withdrawal?

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.

  • tumblr icon
  • google plus icon
  • twitter icon
Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)