The pull-out method can be an effective form of contraceptive for some, but there is a caveat.
Pull Out Method

Across all forms of contraceptives, from condoms to birth control, the pull-out method stands out from the crowd based on simplicity and convenience.

Also known in this generation as pull and pray, this method has stirred much commotion within relationships regarding whether it actually works.

Read on as we answer your burning hot pull-out questions, including how it works, the benefits and risks involved, how to maximize its success, and whether it's even worth it.

In this article:

Note: Read the whole article or scroll down to the KEY TAKEAWAYS section at the end of this article for a short summary.

What Is the Pull out Method?

While this method helps reduce the risk of pregnancy in women, it’s helpful to understand that it is not considered the most effective form of birth control.

The pull out method, also known as “coitus interruptus” or the withdrawal method, is a contraception technique where the male partner pulls out their penis from the vagina just before ejaculation, preventing the sperm from entering the vaginal canal.

This birth control method limits the chances of sperm from reaching a woman’s egg and causing fertilization.

While this method helps reduce the risk of pregnancy in women, it’s helpful to understand that it is not considered the most effective form of birth control.

Pulling out carries risks due to pre-ejaculatory fluid ("pre-cum") potentially containing viable sperm that can enter the vagina before ejaculation, timing challenges leading to possible mistiming and ejaculation due to excitement or lack of self-control, and its inability to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

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How Effective is the Pull Out Method?

When couples were asked about their opinions on the effectiveness of this method, the results were mixed.

When the pull out method is accomplished with perfect form, the failure rate is only about 4%, making it 96% effective during the best of times.

That said, 18% of couples using this method may get pregnant in a year. This is largely because it is tough to accomplish the perfect pullout.

When couples were asked about their opinions on the effectiveness of this method, the results were mixed.

Some participants, particularly women, expressed anxiety regarding the risk of pregnancy due to the ineffectiveness of the pull out method, mentioning they were uncertain about their partner's capacity to withdraw properly before ejaculation.

On the other hand, other couples mentioned they prefer this method due to its convenience during sex and their dissatisfaction with hormonal contraceptives and condoms.

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Benefits and Risks of the Pull Out Method

Compared to other forms of birth control, including the pill or certain IUDs, the pull out method has no such hormonal influence on the body, reducing the risks of any associated side effects

The best way to understand whether or not you should be using the pull out method is by weighing the pros and cons.

Here’s a list of the top benefits and risks involved.

Benefits

No Cost
  • The withdrawal method is the cheapest contraceptive on the market
Increased accessibility
  • Since you don’t need to take anything or put anything on, it’s highly accessible to anyone having sex without having to visit a healthcare provider
No hormonal side effects
  • Compared to other forms of birth control, including the pill or certain IUDs, the pull out method has no such hormonal influence on the body, reducing the risks of any associated side effects
Works alongside other contraceptives
  • Many couples opt to double up on their contraception by using the pull out method alongside other options, such as condoms or implants, for added protection

Risks

Less effective
  • The withdrawal method is far less reliable compared to other forms of contraception
Timing determines success
  • The effectiveness of this method relies solely on the accuracy of timing, which can be incredibly challenging while sexual pleasure is at an all-time high
Limited control of fertility
  • Due to the presence of pre-cum before ejaculation and the importance of pull out timing, this method of unprotected sex is far less reliable when it comes to preventing pregnancy
Does not protect against STIs
  • This method does not provide any protection against STIs during intercourse
May cause performance anxiety
  • Having to perfectly time pulling out from your partner while engaging in intercourse can heighten anxiety [Link to ‘Performance Anxiety’ article] and may even affect the sexual experience altogether
Plan B
  • If an error does occur while using this method, the woman may have to consider emergency contraception by relying solely on the morning-after pill for protection
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5 Factors Influencing Success

Before having sex, it’s helpful to get on the same page with your partner to ensure the pull-out method is right for you

There are a ton of ways that sex can become more or less protected. Of course, like any contraceptive, there are factors to consider that influence its success.

1. Communicate with your partner

The pull out method requires plenty of trust and communication between couples. It is helpful to communicate how it works and the importance of timing for the best outcomes./

It may also be beneficial to communicate the best positions ahead of time to help with pull out timing. For example, being in a missionary or doggy-style position gives the male more control to pull out.

2. Get on the same page as your partner

Before having sex, it’s helpful to get on the same page with your partner to ensure the pull-out method is right for you. Understanding the risks involved with this method and what to do if pregnancy occurs is also beneficial.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Your Menstrual Cycle

For the woman, it’s helpful to familiarize herself with her menstrual cycle. This can help couples identify specific days where pregnancy risk is higher.

According to research, there are six days when sexual intercourse can result in pregnancy. This is known as the “fertile window, " encompassing five days before ovulation and the actual ovulation day.

During this period, it’s recommended to avoid the pull out method.

4. Experience and Practice

For the male, it’s all about timing penis withdrawal before ejaculation. With practice, this becomes far more manageable to do. For couples looking to get extra practice without the risks, it may be worthwhile trying a blow job and having your male partner pull out before ejaculation.

Over time, couples can get better at the timing of withdrawal to improve the success of this method.

5. Consider Other Methods

Many couples use the pull out method as a backup to their primary form of contraception – especially during the fertility window.

Other contraception methods include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Condoms
  • Intrauterine devices (IUD)
  • Implants
  • Diaphragms
  • Birth control patches
  • Vaginal rings
  • Spermicides
  • Sterilization (i.e. tubal ligation or vasectomy)

No matter your chosen method, it's essential to be well-informed about its effectiveness, proper usage, and potential side effects.

Remember that each person's circumstances are unique, so selecting the right contraception involves considering factors like health, lifestyle, and relationship dynamics.

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Is Pull Out Method Worth It?

If preventing pregnancy is your number one priority, you may consider other contraceptive strategies involving withdrawal as an added layer of protection.

When deciding whether or not the pull out method is worth trying for yourself, it’s important to consider your circumstances, preferences, and willingness to accept the risks involved.

Talk candidly with your partner about this method before jumping into bed together. If preventing pregnancy is your number one priority, you may consider other contraceptive strategies involving withdrawal as an added layer of protection.

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FAQs

What are the chances of getting pregnant during ovulation using the pull-out method?

Research has found that the pull out method fail rate may be between 4% and 18%, depending on whether or not all rules are followed.

While there is a slightly higher chance of getting pregnant during ovulation, it is still possible to get pregnant while you aren’t ovulating.

Can the pull out method be used as the only form of contraception?

Although the pull out method is considered a form of contraception, it's less reliable than other birth control methods to prevent pregnancy. Better options include condoms, hormonal contraceptives such as birth control, IUDs, or a combination.

Is the pull out method suitable for preventing STIs?

No. The pull out method will not protect against STIs unless there is a condom or other barrier used to minimize this risk during sex.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The pull out method involves a distinctive approach to preventing pregnancy by relying on timing and control
  • The pull out method is around 80% effective, resulting in 1 in 5 women becoming pregnant every year
  • Although this method is cost-effective and comes with no hormonal side effects, it's less reliable than other contraceptive methods
  • Couples should consider their needs and risk tolerance before choosing this method
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give medical advice or substitute for the medical advice of a physician.

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