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Sex facts: 5 things about the pull-out or withdrawal method every woman should know

Here's all that you need to know about the pull-out method or what is also known as coitus interruptus.

Written by Anuradha Varanasi |Published : April 27, 2016 6:26 PM IST

The pulling out or withdrawal method is quite controversial and though it is widely used by couples as a method of birth control, gynaecologists are completely against it. Despite that, a US national survey conducted in 2013 revealed that nearly 60% of women between the ages of 15-44 have used the pull-out method at least once. After all, it is cheap without the hassle of using condoms or putting up with any side-effects caused by birth control pills.

However, many young couples are still unaware about the risks and potential consequences of relying solely on the withdrawal method to prevent unwanted pregnancies. These are the five facts you should know about the next time you think of having unprotected sex:

1. It has a higher failure rate as compared to condoms

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Withdrawal or coitus interruptus method is seen as a less effective method of preventing an unwanted pregnancy as compared to condoms, birth control pills and IUDs. In fact, studies have found that with typical use, failure rates are as high as 17%, as compared to condoms which only have a 2% failure rate if used incorrectly [1]. The study further revealed that this method is used as a secondary method of pregnancy prevention.

2. The perfect use of this method has only a 4% failure rate

While the typical use of the withdrawal method can result in an unwanted pregnancy in 17% of the cases, studies have also found that if it is done correctly, the failure rate is as low as 4% [1]. However, it is important to remember that the withdrawal or pull out method is not easy. There are always chances that your partner might accidentally ejaculate inside you and it is a wise decision to have a back-up plan.

If you and your partner are trying it for the first time, it would actually be a good idea to do it with a condom a few times. That way, your partner can practice exercising control and even if he comes suddenly, there s a barrier to protect you from an unwanted pregnancy. Also, try this method only if you are in a strictly monogamous relationship.

3. It does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Remember that the withdrawal method cannot protect you from STIs and if you or your partner have multiple sexual partners, you could suffer from trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis [1]. Other than that, you could also be at an increased risk of contracting the HIV virus.

4. Pre-ejaculate fluid can lead to pregnancy

While it is extremely rare that pre-ejaculate fluid or pre-cum can lead to pregnancy, it is certainly possible. While pre-ejaculate fluid doesn t consist of any sperms, there s always the possibility that it could pick up sperms in the urethra.

5. Timing is of essence

As mentioned earlier, practicing the withdrawal method is not easy and requires some practice by the male partner. Even a drop of semen is enough to cause pregnancy, so he needs to be on point with his timing and withdraw before he ejaculates. Any miscalculations in his timings can spell trouble for both of you.


1. Higgins JA, Gregor L, Mathur S, Nakyanjo N, Nalugoda F, Santelli JS. Use of Withdrawal (Coitus Interruptus) for Both Pregnancy and HIV Prevention among Young Adults in Rakai, Uganda. The journal of sexual medicine. 2014;11(10):2421-2427. doi:10.1111/jsm.12375.

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