Finally, An Answer—Does Pulling Out Work?

Man and woman in bed holding tiny socks

A doctor lays out the pros and cons of the withdrawal method.

Your Sex Question: Will a doctor be straight with me—does pulling out work?

What Kristen From Good in Bed Had to Say: First, let's be clear about what you're trying to prevent here. If you're looking to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI), then stick to a condom (and keep it on the whole time), because pulling out is NOT going to provide protection against infection. If you're just looking to prevent pregnancy, then you'll be happy to know that withdrawal method (pulling out) is a potentially viable alternative if other contraceptives don't seem to be ideal for you.

There are certainly some advantages to this method: You don't need a prescription or any sort of device, it's free and always available, and there are no side effects. But does it work? To figure out how well a contraceptive method works, you should consider typical-use rates and perfect-use rates. Perfect use is if you use the method exactly as it is intended. (People are rarely perfect; therefore this rate is rarely accurate.) Typical-use rates are if you use the method the way the average person would typically use it. With typical use, about 27 percent of women who use the withdrawal method experience an unintended pregnancy within the first year of use (4 percent with perfect use). Lemondrop: The Truth About Orgasm

The difficulty with pulling out is that, to do it perfectly, the guy must be really in tune with when he is going to ejaculate. Lemondrop: 8 New Factoids About the Human Phallus

Although most men would like to think they've got a lot of control with their ejaculation timing, the majority of them don't. So, how can you tell if he has perfect control of ejaculation? Well, you can't. Testing this method out while using some other birth control method might be wise. You could use spermicide in addition to pulling out just in case he doesn't pull out in time (then it will hopefully kill any of the sperm that make it in). However, spermicide on its own is actually a pretty poor method, so make sure you do combine them. Lemondrop: I Left My Boyfriend Because He Didn't Want a Baby

Read the rest on Lemondrop.

Writeen by Kristen Mark, MSc, for Lemondrop.