What is withdrawal?
The withdrawal method, also known as coitus interruptus or the pull-out method during sex, is one of the oldest recorded methods of birth control. To use this method, the man pulls his penis out of the vagina just before ejaculation. This method is popular among teens and in countries where contraceptives are not easily available.
How does it work?
The withdrawal method works by preventing the sperm from coming in contact with the unfertilized egg. After removing the penis, the man ejaculates away from his partner so that no semen enters the vagina.
How effective is it?
Annual Failure Rate
Although considered an ineffective method, withdrawal is about as effective as certain other popular methods of birth control, such as spermicides, the diaphragm, or the calendar-rhythm method. Withdrawal has an overall annual failure rate of 24%. That means each year about 1 in 4 users of this method experience an unplanned pregnancy. Among married couples, the failure rate is 20% per year. The failure rate for dating couples is 27% and for cohabiting couples 39%. Among teens the failure rate is as high as 31% per year.
Side-effects and health risks
This method has no side-effects or health risks. Withdrawal does involve unprotected sex and therefore leaves an individual open to sexually transmitted disease, as many STDs can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate fluids.
Considerations for Christians
Many Christians object to this method because it is used often by unmarried teens who would be much safer practicing abstinence. Most Protestants do not have a moral objection to this method of birth control when used within marriage. Some people might consider this a natural method, but withdrawal is not acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church.
- Withdrawal: Contraceptive Information Resource (Contracept.org)
- More about Withdrawal: Epigee Women's Resources (Epigee.org)
Source for Failure Rates: N Ranjit, A Bankole, JE Darroch, S Singh, "Contraceptive Failure in the First Two Years of Use: Differences Across Socioeconomic Subgroups," Family Planning Perspectives, 2001, 33(1):19-27. (pdf)