Center for Young Women's Health



What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal (also called "pull out" method" is when the male withdraws his penis completely from the woman's vagina before he ejaculates (releases many sperm all at once).


Withdrawal is a risky method of contraception because it's not easy to prevent ejaculation in the vagina- it takes a lot of practice and a great deal of self-control. Even if a male can tell when he is about to ejaculate or "come", the fluid that is released (from the penis) before ejaculation can contain sperm from a previous ejaculation.


Out of 100 women using withdrawal
Typical use: 27 women become pregnant 22 Pregnant Women
Perfect use: 4 women become pregnant 4 Pregnant Women

Does the withdrawal method work?

If men use the withdrawal method every time they have sexual intercourse and do it perfectly every time, it is possible to be 96% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that if 100 women use the withdrawal method all the time and always do it perfectly (which is almost impossible), 4 women will become pregnant in a year.


The problem with the withdrawal method is: perfect use hardly ever happens. So the withdrawal method is really only 73% effective. This means that if 100 typical women use the withdrawal method, at least 27 women will become pregnant in a year.


Withdrawal does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.


Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 9/24/2012


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