If you do it correctly, pulling out is a pretty effective way of preventing pregnancy. But it can be hard to do it the right way every time. Pulling out also doesn’t protect against STDs, so using a condom is a good idea - both to help prevent STDs, and to add extra pregnancy prevention.
How effective is the pull out method?
The better you are about using the pull out method correctly — keeping any ejaculation (cum) away from the vulva and vagina every single time you have sex — the better it will work to prevent pregnancy. For every 100 people who use the pull out method perfectly, 4 will get pregnant.
But pulling out can be difficult to do perfectly. So in real life, about 22 out of 100 people who use withdrawal get pregnant every year — that’s about 1 in 5.
The reality is withdrawal isn’t as effective as other types of birth control, but it’s definitely better than not using anything at all. And pulling out can be easily combined with other methods to give you extra pregnancy preventing power. Using withdrawal AND condoms together, for example, gives you pretty excellent protection against pregnancy.
If you use withdrawal for birth control, it’s a good idea to keep emergency contraception (aka the morning-after pill) around, just in case semen (cum) gets in or near your vagina. Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after unprotected sex.