Pull-out or withdrawal method during sex involves pulling the penis from the vagina before ejaculate.
Scientifically, it’s not a method of contraception. It rests on ‘random chance’. So, yes, it can work sometimes and fail at other times – and there’s no way to accurately predict the outcome of pulling out and the chances of pregnancy.
Although pulling out may sound easy, it can fail and of course, it has some disadvantages. Here’s how:
How does the pull-out method fail?
There’s a lot of room for error with the pull-out method.
- Getting the timing wrong
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when ejaculation will happen. Usually — but not always — ejaculation happens right before orgasm, at the height of sexual pleasure. It can be challenging to switch on the logical part of the brain that says, now’s the time to pull out when the pleasure is most intense.
- Pre-ejaculate fluid containing sperm
Sperm can still enter your body even if your partner pulls out on time. Before ejaculation, your partner releases a pre-ejaculate fluid that may contain sperm. This fluid doesn’t have as much sperm as semen, but it may still contain sperm. Pre-ejaculate that contains sperm can get you pregnant if the fluid enters your body.
Disadvantages of the pull-out method
- Stressful sex
Even if your partner does their best to pull out in time, things can always go wrong. The pressure to pull out can make sex a more stressful, high-risk situation than if you were using more reliable birth control methods.
- Risk of contracting STIs
Unlike condoms, the pull-out method offers zero protection against STIs transmitted through body fluids, like trichomoniasis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- It is not considered the most reliable form of birth control
If you suspect that semen entered your vagina, you’ll need to locate emergency contraception. Using an effective form of birth control upfront may be less stressful than finding emergency contraception because something went wrong.