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Unfortunately, Egyptian hieroglyphics are a bit vague on exactly what form of birth control was used at the beginning of civilization. As a result, we are left to draw our own conclusion. Historically speaking, it’s probably safe to say that somewhere along the line those before us discovered the infamous “withdrawal method.”

Though many consider this method stuck in ancient times, it is still widely used by teens today. According to contracept.org, more teens use the withdrawal method as their primary form of birth control than any other age group.

Let’s explore what exactly this method entails. Scientifically referred to as “coitus interruptus,” this form of birth control is used when the male partner removes his penis from the vagina before ejaculation occurs at the climax. Though it sounds simple enough, there are many variables that could ultimately lead to pregnancy.

Research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute shows that even when used effectively the failure rate of withdrawal is around 18 percent. In teens, the failure rate is at 27 percent. Teens, who generally have less sexual experience, cannot always judge when they are nearing climax. In addition, even if the male has withdrawn, sperm coming into contact with the female genitalia can still result in pregnancy. Other variables include when sperm from a previous sexual experience is still in the male’s urethra causing sperm to enter the woman through pre-ejaculatory fluid. Because there is no way to tell (unless you have a swab and a microscope handy) if sperm is present in the pre-ejaculatory fluid or accidentally transmitted to the vaginal area pregnancy can still occur even if withdrawal is successful.

It is also worth noting that the withdrawal method offers no protection against STD’s or HIV. You are therefore fully susceptible to whatever diseases your partner may have.

So let’s recap some of these variables:

  1. Even when used correctly there is an 18 percent failure rate.
  2. Among teens there is a 27 percent failure rate.
  3. Withdrawal does not protect against STD’s and HIV
  4. Even if the male withdrawals in time there could still be sperm in the female’s genital area.
  5. If withdrawal is done and correctly and no sperm appears inside the vagina or on the female’s genitals, sperm that remains in the urethra still may have leaked out during intercourse in the fluid known as pre-ejaculate.

After looking at all the research, statistics and variables, it’s clear why many say the withdrawal method should be buried in an ancient tomb.

Guest post from Sarah R.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.

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