The withdrawal, or “pull out,” method is one of the oldest forms of birth control. Is it possible to still become pregnant while “pulling out?” We’ll discuss that information in blog today as we look at the effectiveness of the withdrawal method.
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The withdrawal method of birth control, known formally as “coitus interuptus” and familiarly as “pulling out,” is likely the earliest known type of birth control practiced. Pregnancy happens when sperm from the male enters the woman’s body and fertilizes the female egg. To prevent pregnancy, it’s necessary that the sperm does not reach the egg. With the withdrawal method, the male must withdraw his erect penis from the woman’s vagina before ejaculation.
What are the statistics for getting pregnant from pulling out?
In addressing statistics for getting pregnant from pulling out – or for any birth control method – it’s important first to understand the difference between “perfect” use and “typical” use. Perfect use means every detail of every aspect of the requirements is accomplished, without any error, every time. Typical use is more like the way it really happens for every-day, not-so-perfect humans. That’s why we need to specify for both.
With perfect use, just four out of 100 women (4%) will get pregnant in the first year of using the method. There is some variance in statistics for typical use. The numbers are not as favorable there; it’s one of the less reliable means of contraception. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give the method a typical-use rating of 22%, meaning that 22 of 100 women will become pregnant from pulling out within the first year of using the practice for birth control. A recent Mayo Clinic article states that as many as 28% get pregnant.
The withdrawal method is more effective at preventing pregnancy than practicing no birth control whatsoever; however, if it is highly important that you not get pregnant at this time, it is recommended that you use other precautions as well.
What can go wrong that could result in getting pregnant from pulling out?
It sounds simple enough, yet for a number of reasons it may not be so easy to accomplish this preventative measure effectively.
- Much self-awareness and self-control are required on the part of the man to recognize when he is about to ejaculate, and to successfully withdraw his penis at the right time.
- Even if the ejaculate is released outside, not directly into the vagina, sperm on the skin close enough to the vaginal canal (for example, on the upper thighs) may work its way inside the woman and fertilize the egg.
- Although studies have not confirmed there is live sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid, the potential – even though remote – exists. Most men do not even notice when pre-ejaculate fluid is discharged, and have no control over it.
- There is a possibility that sperm may remain in the urethra after a previous instance. For the man to urinate before sex may help to clear out any residual or early-start sperm.
Whether you have used the withdrawal method, another type of contraception, or no birth control of any kind, if you are wondering or anxious that you might be pregnant, we are here to help you. We offer accurate pregnancy tests, no-obligation pregnancy consultations with a compassionate trained, pregnancy consultant; or with other helpful services, many of which are at no cost to you. Contact us by phone, text, email or chat. We look forward to meeting you.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, February). Reproductive Health > Contraception. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm.
- Mayo Clinic. (2018, April). Coitus interruptus (withdrawal method). Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/withdrawal-method/about/pac-20395283
- WebMD. (2016, June). Can I Get Pregnant if He Pulls Out? Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/pull-out-withdrawal
- American Pregnancy Association (APA). (2018, June). Can You Get Pregnant with Precum? Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/can-you-get-pregnant-with-precum/
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
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.