Is Pulling Out Losing Its Bad Rep?

Any time a friend has described their method of birth control as “pulling out,” I instinctively give them a judgmental look. We won Griswold v. Connecticut. We can buy condoms at any corner store. Sure, Plan B is available over the counter, but why risk it?

While this seems to be the standard reaction, it could have more basis in cultural stigma than in fact. Recent studies have shown that in this age of infinite options, withdrawal might be just as good as diaphragms and condoms. According to an article on The Globe and Mail, researchers and academics have been embracing the withdrawal method as a viable option of birth control.

“‘Withdrawal has a bad rep, but if you look at the research, it substantially reduces the risk of pregnancy,’ said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute in New York.”

So could pulling out finally lose its stigma? The answer, it seems, rests in the results.

According to the article, “when it comes to reducing pregnancies, withdrawal rivals even the use of condoms. Failure rates for condoms hover at about 17 per cent, while 18 per cent of couples will get pregnant in a year using the withdrawal method, according to estimates of contraceptive failure from the 2002 national survey, which was based on reports from hundreds of women.”

If pulling out is as effective as condoms at reducing pregnancies—though not at preventing STIs—why wouldn’t a monogamous couple choose it?

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  • invalid-0

    When we were first a couple we used the pulling out method. Notwithstanding the risk there is also the lack of satisfaction for both partners. There is no way you can experience the final thrust and then there is the cum to deal with.

    The pill and/or condoms are a much superior option(s).

    I don’t follow the quoted failure rate with condoms. We never had a problem and probably used hundreds in our reproductive years and the cum is clearly visible in the teat of the condom afterwards. I have heard of people running the condom under a tap post coital to check for leaks but from my experience this is not necessary.

  • invalid-0

    Enough said. Try spermicide suppositories (like Encare) if you’re not worried about STD’s and you don’t want to use condoms or hormones. The spermicides worked for me; I did not get pregnant for years using those, became pregnant (on purpose) a while after I stopped using them, and am now on my second pregnancy. If I remember correctly, their success rate is 89% with proper use, about the same as condoms. The problems with them are some extra mess, and making oral sex unpleasant because the man (or you, depending on what’s going on) will taste the spermicide, and that’s no fun.

  • invalid-0

    I think that these new findings will be reassuring for trusting and monogamous couples who want to swap pulling out for condoms, but I worry about the implications for others. As we know, pulling out does nothing to protect against disease and depends on the man to pull out in time. In relationships with unequal power dynamics, this could be a problem. The same is true to some extent with condoms, but pulling out is even more male-controlled than condoms. While an interesting finding, pulling out should not be promoted as a contraceptive technique, especially among teens and young adults. As long as they are similar in effectiveness, we should stick to emphasizing condoms as the best way to prevent both pregnancy and disease at the same time, while encouraging women to use more effective contraceptives.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t think that MDs should be talking about withdrawl more. I think we should be talking about better forms of birth control – pills, patch, ring, IUD

    So what if withdrawl is as good as condoms? that is still 17 out of 100 people will get pregnant! That’s like 1 out of 5 people using this method, which is more abortions or more unwanted pregnancies.

    Also, I wonder about the “true condom use.” As I tell my patients, if you don’t see the condom go in, and you don’t see it come out, you don’t know if he used one. I have had guys take off the condom before they insert themselves. I have had guys have the condom pop but not tell the woman, b/c they didn’t know about emergency contraception.

    So, heterosexual ladies, check that condom going in and going out and educate your man about Emergency Contraception and have some around.

    Some might say that not everyone can get birth control b/c of cost. Well, it’s time that we demand that birth control be free! Why should women pay for birth control? men and women have sex, why should women pay? We have to take the medication, let the men pay.

  • invalid-0

    I agree with Sophia “why use withdrawal” when so many options are available. However I would query Sophia on male condom use. I think my wife would know if the condom was not on and we had a bit of a ritual removing the penis before flaccid, a quick visual of the contents before tying a knot. I looked for many years to find a condom which felt like a cleanskin penis. Some are better like lambskin but there is still a difference.

    • invalid-0

      The most unsuccessful in this respect are the condoms made in the countries of Asia. Remember that on a box it is possible to specify any country, and here a stroke-code to deceive it will be possible hardly. First three figures will help you to solve, that product which you hold in hands whence comes.
      For example, number 899 means, that the condom has been made in Indonesia, 890 – in India. Happens, that on a stroke-code numbers which are not fixed to one country are specified.
      Also that on each condom on a foil number of a series and working life and if the condom is on sale without a box-packing – that and the manufacturer should be without fail specified is important.
      On the European condoms under specifications also there is a sign «СЕ», confirming quality of a product.
      Condoms of unknown manufacture are better be not to buying.

  • invalid-0

    I tend to agree with these findings. I am very health conscious and am picky about what I put into my body. I just don’t like the health risks of hormonal birth control. My husband and I have used withdrawal for years successfully. If done properly, I believe it can be as effective as a condom. It should not, however, be recommended to young or sexually inexperienced people. I do think that the risks have been overstated to scare people from using it, and these findings seem to bear that out.