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Quick Facts

Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

  • Of 100 women who use this method each year, about 20 may become pregnant.
  • The effectiveness of using withdrawal depends on using it correctly and consistently.
Pull penis away from partner’s genitals before ejaculating.No STD protection.No office visit required.

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal prevents fertilization by not allowing semen (and sperm) to enter the vagina so that sperm does not reach the egg. It is also called Coitus Interruptus.

How do I use it?

While having intercourse, before ejaculating, a person pulls the penis out of the partner’s vagina and away from the partner’s genitals (sex organs). The person withdrawing must depend on their judgment of their physical sensations to decide when they are about to ejaculate in order to withdraw in time.

How effective is it?

The effectiveness of using withdrawal depends on using it correctly and consistently —specifically on the ability to withdraw the penis before ejaculation. With typical use, 20 women out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use. People who are less experienced with using this method or who have a difficult time knowing when they will ejaculate will have a greater risk of failure.

Advantages of withdrawal

  • Withdrawal has no health risks or side effects.
  • It is free.
  • It is an acceptable method for some couples with religious preferences related to the use of birth control.

Drawbacks of withdrawal

  • Withdrawal does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Always use a condom to reduce the risk of STDs.
  • A person may not be able to consistently withdraw their penis before they ejaculate.
  • Interruption of the sexual excitement phase may decrease pleasure.


Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on May 30, 2019