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How Effective is the Pull-Out Method of Birth Control? How to Pull Out Correctly

Does pulling out work if you want to avoid pregnancy? It does to some degree if you do it correctly. Learn how effective the pull out method really is and what you can do to decrease your chances of unwanted pregnancy in the article.
Legs of a couple who use pull-out method of birth control

What is the pull-out method? 

The pull-out method, also known as the withdrawal method, is a way to prevent pregnancy. Although not reliable, it’s a better option than not doing anything. It’s also an option for couples who wouldn’t mind getting pregnant. 

The name explains the act. The man takes his penis out of the woman’s vagina before he ejaculates. By doing this, less sperm gets inside. The man can then deposit the sperm virtually anywhere else. Although it might sound easy, it does require control and good timing. If the man can’t feel that he’s about to ejaculate or if he’s too caught up in the moment, he might not pull out on time. 

Whether pulling out is a legitimate form of birth control is the topic of extensive debate. However, it does lower the likelihood of getting pregnant to some extent. If you want to avoid getting pregnant and catching an STD, the safest option would be using a condom and pulling out simultaneously. 

How to pull out correctly 

In order for the pull-out method to work correctly, you must do it right every time you have intercourse. Before your partner orgasms, he should pull out the penis from the vagina and ejaculate away from your genitals. This is essential as even a small amount of semen is enough for the woman to get pregnant. 

Here are some tips for how to pull out correctly: 

  • Use a spermicide to kill the sperm before they are able to swim into the uterus. You need to place the spermicide deep in the vagina, close to the cervix. There are different creams, gels, and foams to choose from. 
  • Keep track of your fertile days using an ovulation calendar. During these days, it’s best to not rely on the pull out method in order not to risk an unwanted pregnancy. Ovulation calendars can also help you to get to know your body by detecting physical and emotional patterns. 
  • Before intercourse, have your partner pee to clear out any sperm. 
  • After your partner ejaculates, make sure there’s no sperm on your upper thighs or groin. If you have sperm on these areas of your body, it’ll be easier for it to work its way inside your vagina. 

If ejaculation isn't properly timed and you're concerned about pregnancy, consult your health care provider about emergency contraception

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Using a condom to avoid pulling out during sex

Does pulling out work? How effective is the pull out method when done correctly? 

In order for the pull-out method to be effective, you need to keep any sperm away from the vulva and vagina every time you have sex. The pulling out method statistics show that out of 100 women who use the pull out method perfectly, 4 will get pregnant. However, there are many couples that don't do it perfectly. In this case, that number grows to 25 women getting pregnant out of 100. To compare, roughly 18 out of 100 couples who use condoms get pregnant. For couples who don’t use any birth control method, there’s 85% chance of pregnancy. 

If you are on birth control, do you have to pull out? 

Birth control pills are a type of protection against unwanted pregnancy. These pills can be up to 99.9% effective if you take them correctly. According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the mini pills and the combination pills have 7% failure rates with typical use. This means that 7 out of 100 women would get pregnant. 

Although birth control pills are statistically more effective than pulling out, there’s no harm in using both. However, be aware that birth control pills and the pulling out method can’t prevent the spread of STDs during sex. 

Using a condom and pulling out 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, neither pulling out or birth control protects you and your partner from STDs. The most common are HIV, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, and gonorrhea, among others. Statistics show that there 357 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis worldwide every year. 

In some cases, STIs can have serious reproductive health consequences beyond the immediate impact of the infection itself (e.g., infertility or mother-to-child transmission)

The safest option is using a condom and pulling out to protect unwanted pregnancy. Even if there’s a slip, you’re still protected. You can even use condoms to practice pulling out on time.

A woman showering after using pull-out method of birth control

The benefits of withdrawal birth control method 

The benefits of the withdrawal birth control method include: 

  • This method is free and available at all times. When you use this type of birth control method, you and your partner have nothing to spend money on and nothing to put in place before having intercourse. Anyone can use it, at any place and at any time. Although you might need some practice to get it right, it’s always here when you need it. It’s also a great option if you forgot to buy a condom or left your regular birth control pills at home. 
  • It has no side effects. No nausea, no risk of vomiting, or increased appetite. 
  • It makes other forms of birth control more effective. When combined with a condom or birth control pills, the pull-out method can decrease your chances of an unwanted pregnancy. 

The risks and disadvantages of the pull-out method 

The pull out method comes with its disadvantages: 

  • It’s not the most effective. Other birth control methods can be more effective, for example, birth control pills and IUD. 
  • It requires practice. Men have troubles pulling out when they’re experiencing the most pleasurable feelings. 
  • People don’t know how to do it right. Many couples don't do it perfectly and get caught up in the moment. Men, especially if they’re younger or inexperienced, lack self-control and fail to pull out at the height of sexual pleasure. 
  • Although it can prevent pregnancy, it doesn’t protect against STDs. Many STDs like herpes or genital warts can be spread via skin-to-skin contact. Moreover, other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be carried in precum. Make sure to always use a condom.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/unintendedpregnancy/pdf/contraceptive_ methods_508.pdf

World Health Organization http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/sexually-transmitted-infections /data-and-statistics

Teens Health https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bc-chart.html

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