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THE INS AND OUTS: Everything you need to know about the pull-out method – and why it just doesn’t work

Posted on: October 31, 2018

Are you using the pull-out method, aka withdrawal, or thinking about it? If you want to know how pulling out works, or how effective it is – you’re in the right place.


Also called withdrawal or coitus interruptus, pulling out is one of the oldest contraception methods and, unfortunately, still one of the most popular. Why unfortunately? Because pulling out is not a reliable contraception method: 22 women out of every 100 couples using it experience an unintended pregnancy every year! Back in the day our great-grandparents might not have had access to any other contraception - but today we are blessed with options, and before using the pull out method we strongly advise you to learn about and choose another method.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

Before ejaculation the man pulls his penis out and away from the vagina and outer female reproductive organs, such as the labia, in order to prevent his sperm from fertilizing her egg.

Pulling out correctly means that the man must remove his penis from the vagina and away from all nearby areas before a single sperm can enter. We repeat: a SINGLE SPERM. Because it only takes one to fertilize an egg. And here’s the biggest catch – even if a man pulls out before he ejaculates, he can still release that one strong swimmer. Most men release pre-ejaculate fluid, also known as pre-cum, before ejaculation – and pre-cum can contain active sperm. This release happens during intercourse and men have no control over it AT ALL!
So to make it crystal clear: EVERY TIME you use the withdrawal method, you put yourself at risk of an (unplanned) pregnancy.

Pulling out may be popular, but as we’ve said - it is absolutely not reliable. Withdrawal is only 78% effective - which means that 22 women out of every 100 couples using it experience an unintended pregnancy! Compared to other forms of birth control the risk factor is enormous.  For example: the pill is 91% effective, condoms 82% and a hormonal or copper coil < 99%.

effectiveness of pull out method


1) Not all sperm are released at climax – some are eager to get out early, and are contained in pre-cum. And remember, it takes just one little guy to fertilize a woman's egg. So even if he doesn’t finish off, the pull out method might still get you pregnant.

2) Sperm can survive up to 6 days in a female’s body, and even sperm released outside the vagina, i.e. on the outer female reproductive organs, can make their way into the vaginal canal. And remember – it just takes ONE of these strong swimmers to fertilize an egg.

3) Achieving orgasm isn’t always easy for women. Her ability to reach the big O goes hand in hand with the freedom of mind to let go and enjoy the experience – along with being given enough time.  A sudden interruption and the end of sex, as well as the anxiety that her partner won’t pull out at the exact right time, can stop a woman before she starts.


4) Sex can be better for men, too, when they have full freedom of mind to enjoy it – and aren’t busy thinking about when to pull out, if it will work, or trying to control themselves.

5) Pulling out means you can never experience climax together – at least not during intercourse. A male orgasm lasts about 8.7 seconds, while a woman gets 10.9 seconds of intense pleasure. Putting on a condom takes about the same time, but enables you to climax together – without a sudden stop, anxiety, or risk of an unintended pregnancy. So if you’re not ready for a baby yet – which seconds matter more?


A coalition of international partners with an interest in sexual and reproductive health