Is the pull-out method effective at preventing pregnancy?

Pull out method fire hose metaphor

The pull-out method carries a load of questions and misconceptions along with it. What is the pull-out method, and is it even effective? Does the pull-out method prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and do I need to learn some dick kung-fu to make sure I do it right? 

The pull-out or withdrawal method is when a guy takes their penis out of a vagina before he cums. If sperm gets in the vagina somehow pregnancy is possible, so this method relies on being able to control when and where you cum.

It’s estimated that 60% of American women have relied on the pull-out method as a form of birth control. While this strategy is popular and more effective birth control than doing nothing, you run a greater risk of contracting STI’s or pregnancy.

Why do people use the pull-out method?

If the pull-out method’s effectiveness is so low, why is it so popular? Most of my friends say they don’t like the way a condom feels. Others use it when they don’t have a condom or as an additional form of birth control since their girlfriend was on the pill.

What’s most important if you want to try the withdrawal method is to communicate with your partner about it. If you’ve been using condoms and just randomly decide you wanna go gloveless, that absolutely needs to be talked about openly and not just sprung upon in the heat of the moment.

Respect that any reason your partner has for not wanting to try the pull-out method is a valid one. 

Perhaps it’s your partner who wants to feel you without a latex shield. Your feelings on the subject are just as valid. If you’re not comfortable trying the pull-out method for any reason, voice your concerns and don’t allow anybody to pressure you into doing something you don’t want sexually.

The withdrawal method also involves a lot of self-trust. To know when you will cum and to stop having sex in that perfect moment takes practice and a ton of self-knowledge. 

The consensus is that the pull-out method is more of a relationship or friends with benefits type move than a one-night stand type move.

First of all, you have to really trust that the person you are with is honest about their STI history. The pull-out method does not prevent STI’s!

STI’s such as herpes, HIV, gonorrhoea, and syphilis are still transferable even if you don’t cum inside her. So I definitely wouldn’t suggest this as a regular tactic for Tinder Netflix and chills or other random hookups. 

How effective is the pull-out method?

The pull-out method’s effectiveness is about 78%, which means that nearly one in five women will become pregnant in a year of relying on this method. So it’s better than no birth control at all, but it still poses a big pregnancy risk.

However, the withdrawal method can be more effective when used in conjunction with other types of birth control. I’ve met guys and girls that said pulling out gave them a little extra peace of mind when using condoms or contraceptive birth control. 

There is also spermicide. It’s a gel-like over the counter product that you put in the vagina before sex to slow down and kill sperm. Spermicide is also less reliable than other kinds of contraceptive. But using it in conjunction with the pull-out method is more effective.  

Some couples monitor the girl’s ovulation cycle, making sure to only use the withdrawal method on day’s with little to no chance of getting pregnant. There are even gadgets and apps designed to let women know when they are in their “fertile window” to avoid sex or use another form of birth control at that time.

The effectiveness of these devices is hotly debated. I wouldn’t recommend this approach unless you and your partner have a ton of trust. 

Finally, we need to talk about pre-cum. It’s the small amount of ejaculate released before you cum that contains small amounts of sperm. Though pre-cum rarely causes pregnancy, you and your partner should be aware that it could, even if you pull out “perfectly”.

How to pull-out correctly

So you’ve talked with your partner and decided you both want to try the pull-out method. The first, and I think the most crucial step, is to make sure you understand your own sexual responses.

For this to be effective, you need to be able to know when you’re gonna cum. And have the power to stop yourself from fucking when you get there!

If you can, practice with your partner using a condom or masturbate alone. Try to get a sense of your physical cues before you cum. If you’re not confident when it comes to doing it for real, just pull your dick out early.

There is no reason to leave it to the very last possible second, there are no style points available for a last-second withdrawal. The pull-out method is much more effective when you don’t take chances.

When you feel yourself getting there, you gotta pull out in time and release somewhere else. Don’t choose anywhere near your partner’s vagina! Even if you don’t cum inside, any sperm in the vagina or vulva can cause pregnancy.

Talk about where you want to finish with your partner ahead of time too. Imagine if you got blasted in the face with a McDonalds’ soft-serve cone – you probably wouldn’t like it. Try asking, “Where should I cum?” or “Would you like it if I finished in your mouth, hands, chest etc.?”

One more thing. I got a headache last month explaining to my buddy that you cannot just put it back in after cuming! There is still sperm residue that can cause pregnancy. If you still want to keep going after you cum (respect), give yourself a good washing. 

What if you pull out too late?

The pull-out method of contraception is not very reliable for one reason: mistakes happen. If you use it regularly, you will inevitably have the occasional accident or times when you are unsure if you pulled on in time or not, for example, if you were intoxicated.

If you ever have any doubts. Don’t just wait and leave it to chance. You need to communicate with your partner, even if you’re embarrassed over your lack of self-control.

Your partner will need to decide if she wants to get an emergency contraceptive pill, also known as Plan B or the morning-after pill. It’s important to tell her right away as emergency contraceptives work best during the first three days after having sex.

Is the pull-out method right for you?

Ultimately, to be effective the pull-out method requires a lot of control from you. The girl you’re with is putting a lot of trust in you. And you’re both trusting each others STI history, fertility schedules, and other stuff related to your sexual health.

There’s no right or wrong contraceptive. They all have trade-offs and different levels of risk for STIs and pregnancy. Talk with your partners to decide what works for you both. And, have fun.

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