How Effective Is Pulling Out for Contraception?

Pulling out can lower the odds of pregnancy, but "accidents" can still happen.

How Effective Is Pulling Out for Contraception?

By: August McLaughlin

The scene might be a familiar one: You and your partner are both on fire when you realize that you're about to come. And while you want to continue, you're not using any protection so you manage to pull out. Pulling out, aka the withdrawal method, can seem like the simplest form of birth control, but while it lowers the odds of pregnancy without any costs or side effects, it's not ideal for a lot of couples.

How It Works

The point of coitus interruptus is to prevent sperm from entering your partner. Shortly before ejaculating, you pull out. If you do this effectively and no sperm enters her vagina before, during or after, it guards against pregnancy. Even if you do it right, though, it's not a sure thing.

Why It's Difficult

Pulling out takes lots of self-control, trust and experience — yet, you can still end up with a bun in the oven. As a guy, you need to know when you're nearing orgasm and consistently have no problem pulling out for withdrawal to work. This can be difficult in the heat of things as pleasure amps up. Men often aren't sure when to withdraw, especially if they've had limited experience sexually or with the method. If you tend to ejaculate early, withdrawal is a particularly poor option.

The Numbers

Four out of every 100 women whose partners pull out correctly become pregnant each year, notes the Planned Parenthood website, which also states that although most studies show that pre-ejaculate — the liquid that seeps out before ejaculation — does not contain sperm, it is possible for some sperm to make its way into precum. Keep in mind that most guys have no control over pre-ejaculate and don't even know when it's released. Also, even though it rarely happens, pregnancy can result from semen spilled on the external opening to the vagina. And if you pull out incorrectly, pregnancy is a lot more likely — occurring 27 percent of the time, according to Planned Parenthood. That's an almost 30 percent chance of baby-making each time you come. Something else to consider is that the withdrawal method does not protect against STDs.

Effective Alternatives

More effective contraception options include birth control pills, spermicidal foams or creams, diaphragms, his or her condoms, intrauterine devices — tiny devices inserted into her uterus — and the fertility awareness method. FAM involves tracking a woman’s temperature and other ovulation signs and avoiding intercourse during her most fertile days. Vasectomy and female sterilization are more extreme options. While fully effective in preventing pregnancy, both these options carry some risks and can be difficult to reverse.

Condom Perks and Choices

When you follow the on-pack directions, condoms are a great option. And unlike spermicides, there's no need to apply them 10 minutes or more in advance. Condoms also allow you to come inside your partner, which can heighten intimacy, and protect from STDs. If you're concerned about the condom-feel detracting from the experience, use Durex® Extra Sensitive™ condoms. If you're an early comer, use Durex® Performax® Intense Climax Control Condoms.


Photo Credit:
Andrey Popov/Getty Images


Free Shipping
$30 or more

How do I take advantage of Free Standard Shipping?

  1. All products in your order must be noted as Free Shipping Eligible.
  2. Your product order must total $30 or more after all coupons and discounts are applied.
  3. Your order must not weigh over 10 pounds. Orders overweight will accrue a surcharge per pound for every pound over 10 pounds.
  4. Orders containing more than 4 aerosol items may not qualify for Free Shipping.

Still have questions? You'll find additional information in our Shipping & Returns section at the bottom of any page.