What You Should Know Before Using “Pull-Out” Method

Some 60% of women use "withdrawal" as a form of birth control at some time.Some 60% of women use withdrawal as a form of birth control at some time. Here are some things you should know.

A recent study suggests that some men (41%) leak sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid and some don’t.  Researchers had young men masturbate and put the tip of their penis on a petri dish to collect any fluid released before ejaculation. They then collected a sample of actual ejaculate.

Some of the men repeated this after a few days up to five times. The men who had sperm in a sample of their pre-ejaculate (also known as pre-cum) always did. Those whose pre-cum didn’t contain sperm never produced a sample that did.

Related: Study: Sharing Dish Duty Improves Your Relationship and Sex Life

So does your man leak sperm beforehand or not?

You could do like the scientists and get out your microscope at 400x and check. Or just stay on the safe side and always use a condom or other method from first genital contact.

Another study suggests that coitus interruptus is about as effective as condoms. They found that with perfect use (you know, where you have sex like a science experiment) withdrawal results in pregnancy about 4% of the time.

Condoms, with perfect use, result in pregnancy about 3% of the time. Of course, in real life, people who use only withdrawal or only condoms get pregnant 18% and 17% of the time, respectively. Not as great as perfect use, for sure.

For a long time, we taught and assumed that there was no sperm in pre-ejaculatory fluid. As a biological product, there shouldn’t be. The pre-cum is heavy on sugar and zinc to help speed the swimmers along once they finally come down the pike. There shouldn’t be a physiological release of semen before ejaculation.

Sex educators have long pointed out that if a man has recently ejaculated, there may be viable sperm left in the shaft that could be swept out with the pre-cum. However, the study that showed that some men do always release sperm before ejaculation looked at days of abstinence.

Even men who hadn’t ejaculated for 4-7 days were releasing sperm early. So leftovers getting swept out can’t be the only explanation.

One possible hangup is that the collection methods weren’t perfect in this study.

Related: Is ‘After-Sex Sadness’ Affecting Your Relationship?

Because it’s hard to masturbate in front of a scientist, the researchers don’t know for sure what the men submitted.

After collecting the small amount of pre-cum fluid on the petri dish by wiping their penis on it, they were supposed to go on to finish and collect that as well. Men who had sperm in their pre-ejaculate had roughly the same concentration in their actual ejaculate.

Is it possible some of the men gave the researchers two samples of actual ejaculate to avoid embarrassment?

If you and your partner use withdrawal and you really, really don’t want to get pregnant, you’re probably also using another method. If not, consider that it’s possible your man is the kind of guy who leaks millions of sperm before he gets close to orgasm.


One thought on “What You Should Know Before Using “Pull-Out” Method”

  1. Condoms, according to Planned Parenthood, as well as a variety of other governmental organization, prevent pregnancy 98% of the time, not 97% as stated in this article. This is an important statistical error.

    A 98% effectiveness rate means that every year about 1 out of 50 women will get pregnant when their partner uses a condom as their sole birth control method. (The rate for the pill is not 100% either, by way of comparison. Condom use actually comes close to the effectiveness rate of birth control pills.) Compare this to the alleged effectiveness rate of withdrawal. I say alleged because the study the author links to is, by their own admission, deeply flawed without any scientific controls. It is based on data collected from women who were paid to take a survey.)

    1 out of 25 women will get pregnant when their partner withdraws as the only method of birth control. The comparison between 98% and 96% isn’t looking so impressive any more.

    Using a condom perfectly looks nothing like a science experiment as the author suggests. It’s very simple. It just means that a male partner puts a condom on before entering his partners vagina. It’s not at all difficult to use condoms perfectly in real life. You just decide that your male partner will put a condom on EVERY time BEFORE he puts his penis in your vagina. Lots of men like to go in without a condom first during foreplay, then pull out an put a condom on as things get more heated. This is what imperfect usage means. Or they want to skip putting the condom on because their partner is still showing some menstrual blood. As the article points out pre-ejaculate fluid may contain live sperm. This is not news. The very first edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves emphasized this – and that was back in the sixties. We also knew that some of us can conceive by intercourse during menstruation, because sperm can stay alive for up to five days within the body. This is not news.

    Additionally, the failure of a condom to prevent pregnancy is usually due to breakage, or the condom slipping off as the male partner withdraws. A condom failure is usually immediately apparent so a woman who does not wish to be pregnant can take Plan B that day if she needs to. A withdrawal failure doesn’t usually show up until the woman misses her next period.

    To suggest that withdrawal is comparable in effectiveness to condom use, in my opinion, is irresponsible, especially since this conclusion seems to be based largely on a very flawed study of paid participants who did little more than fill out a survey. Short on detail and virtually no controls.

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