5 Reasons Why the Pull-Out Method (Withdrawal) Is Not as Good as Condoms

durex_condomPlease, just say yes to condoms.

There’s been a lot of media drooling over the latest research which suggests that withdrawal may be a legitimate form of birth control. This is great news for couples in long-term, monogamous, committed relationships who have complete trust in one another, who have made an educated decision to be bodily-fluid bonded, and who would not be too bummed with an unintended pregnancy. But we’re guessing the majority of sex going on in the world does not fall into this category of relationship. More often it’s sex of a slightly more casual nature (think drunken Saturday night strangers, office workers after the holiday party, a friend consoling another needy friend, exes returning to the well, spouses cheating on each other, teenagers experimenting, online daters, etc., etc.) — all situations where “pull and pray” is a dumb-ass idea. So before you go throwing your condoms away, please consider this:

  1. Control — Ladies, when you rely on the withdrawal method, you are relinquishing all control over your birth control. You’re basically losing autonomy over your body, relying on another being to do (it) right by you. Women have fought too long and hard for the freedom to make their own choices about their own bodies for you to just pass that power over to a dude.
  2. Pre-ejaculate — Most experts agree that after a man ejaculates but before he urinates, sperm can hang out in his piping. Which means if he goes for round two before a whiz, there’s a good chance his little swimmers will ride the wave of his pre-ejaculatory fluid (a.k.a. pre-come) into your love bay, rendering a perfectly timed pull-out pointless.
  3. Poor performance — Guys, you know how some orgasms are: you lose sense of time and space, you lose the ability to think straight and speak normally, and you lose control of all facial expressions. Something with that kind of power over your mind and body can and most likely will throw off your timing, as well as your best intentions. Sure, a small, rational part of your brain may be planning on pulling out, but in the heat of the moment, every other fiber of your being is telling you not to do that. Who are you gonna put your money on?
  4. STDs, STDs, STDs! This is a biggie. Condoms significantly reduce the risk of STD transmission — that’s what makes them so great (well that, and the easy clean-up). With withdrawal, you’ve got nothing — you’re just giving bacteria, viruses and parasites unlimited backstage access to your or your partner’s naughty bits.
  5. Liars — Again ladies, there are plenty of jerks out there. (You gals can be bad too, but that’s another post entirely.) Some guys will say and do anything to ride bareback, even when they know it’s not true — e.g. “I just got tested, I’m clean,” or “I’ve got great timing” or “I’ve never not used a condom with anyone else before” or “I love you” or “Trust me.” Basically, if a guy says “Trust me” when he’s asking you to engage in risky sexual behavior, don’t!


  1. Two separate thoughts:

    1) It seems totally reasonable at the time to trust a friend-turned boyfriend that claims to have been thoroughly tested for STDs, but if you feel even the slightest sense of unease about any aspect of the guy (even if it’s just “I don’t like how moody this guy seems to become every X days”), *listen* to it and use anti-STD contraception. You don’t want to realize one day, a decade later, that a minor periodic problem started only after that decision and might be symptoms of a STD…

    2) While it makes total sense to avoid hormones *IF* someone is in the tiny percentage of the population that has a negative reaction to them, doing it just on principle to the point of risking unwanted pregnancies isn’t smart. The vast, overwhelming majority of women don’t gain weight, have mood swings, etc. on hormones, just like the vast majority of people out there don’t have horrible reactions to other medications. Do your homework on medical sites, then make choices based on facts rather than fears.

  2. I was in an LTR where we (stupidly) relied on the pull-out method for 4 of the 5 years we were together. I only got on birth control the last year. While my ex, to his credit, was great about pulling out every time, and though he never came inside me, we did have a couple of scares. I never got pregnant but I did take my share of pregnancy tests.

    I wouldn’t recommend the pull-out method as a reliable form of birth control. My situation is clearly an anomaly and believe me I’m thankful every day, and wonder how on earth, I never got knocked up. I was lucky. Use condoms or if you’re in a monogamous relationship, get on some form of birth control. With the amount of options available for women nowadays -with or without hormones, with or without period, patch, pill, ring, etc- save yourself the uncertainty of the pull-out method and exercise your options.

  3. It’s my birth control of choice. I’m not keen on putting hormones in my body and dealing with weight gain, mood swings, and certain health risks. I’m in a monogamous relationship and we accept the risk. He must be pulling out in time because I have not conceived in the 3 years we have been doing this. Yes, I trust him at this point. It’s free, it’s natural, and it seems to work for us.

  4. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years. We dated for a year using condoms until I got on the Pill. Ever since then, we have not used condoms and he has not pulled out when he cums. I’ve never had any pregnancy scares or been late (this also due to the fact I take my pills at 8am every morning). So the decision is truly yours, but be careful no matter what lol.

  5. It’s definitely risky for the reasons listed but it does seem to work for some people. I was very careless with condoms all during my teen years, letting my boyfriends pull out on my belly instead. I never got pregnant, so it must work to a certain extent.

  6. My man and I have used withdrawal as contraception for the past 25 years. Yes, we are monogamous, we trust each other, (why would one have sex with someone if you didn’t?) and it has worked. He has never “forgotten” in the heat of the moment, never lied, never came before he pulled out. The only time he has NOT withdrawn is only a couple of times,(not counting periods) and ONLY at my urging (and yeah, I got pregnant twice as the result of this, but we were OK with the idea of more kids, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’M the one with no self control when it comes to sex in this relationship.)

    Somebody talked about condoms, foam AND withdrawal? Is that sex? May as well just lie next to each other and masturbate. Ever accidentally EAT foam? Ugh. Also, not everyone has sex in this order 1)manual 2)oral and then 3)intercourse a lot of us like to mix it up the whole time, going from one to an other. Means foam gets in your mouth. YUCK. (Of course with anal, if being used last. Or keep a wash cloth with some nice clean rinsing soap on the headboard….)

    As we are talking about anal, My Man also withdraws then. Why? SEEPAGE. If you are already lying on your belly, (or even if you aren’t) that junk is going to seep right into where you DON’T want it, nearly every time. Anal is NO form of birth control.

    And, from my experience, the “precome containing sperm and will get you pregnant” is really too played up by many BC talkers. In over 20 years of using withdrawal, I have never become pregnant from precome. My Man and I are very fertile (well, less now, as we get older) and if anyone would have got pregnant from “precome” I’m pretty sure I would have. (Got preg virtually every time we had “unprotected sex” when I wasn’t menstruating.)

    The reason we resorted to this. 1) Latex allergy, (and a large Man, Large condoms are nearly impossible to find in a non-latex variety. Regular condoms break, hurt him, only come half way up, or simply don’t go on most of the way at all.) The Pill making me very ill, diaphragm causing UTIs (and the whole latex thing again) not being able to find cervical caps, “Today” sponges” getting stuck, and then being taken off the market (I know they’re back, and they contain latex, and spermicide) Internal Plumbing problems preventing the insertion of a IUD, and being allergic to spermicide. So, what’s left? Pulling out.

    It isn’t a form of BC I would encourage my teen and 20something unmarried daughters to engage in, but in some relationships, it really DOES work.

  7. Those who rely exclusively or nearly exclusively on the withdrawal method frequently achieve a new found status … it is called parenting.

    Luck to you if you continue.

  8. I have been with my guy for almost 3 years and have realized that i know my body so well.
    First, i would like to say that i enjoy sex more without a condom, it just feels better.
    I know exactley 10 days after the first day of my cycle i ovulate for 7 days, so during that time we use the pullout method.

  9. Sometimes I love the fact that a man pull out. It feels good when he ejaculates on u. I agree if you have anal sex ur safe. Although there are times when he cums inside you it tends to make you cum hard when u feel it. Im 40 years old and tubes tied so I dont have to worry about that. I just enjoy the great feeling of sex. although ladies and guys too, u have to make sure that the person u have sex with is clean and disease free.If their disease free and u know u cant get pregnant, HAVE A LL THE GREAT SEX U CAN. I DO.

  10. For me it’s more of an other-way-around thing. It’s not that you should trust withdrawal instead of condoms, it’s that you should be as prepared for the issues in your list whether you use condoms or not. People sometimes wait to put on a condom, for instance, only when they’re ready to begin *serious* intercourse. By which time STIs can still be transferred, pre-ejaculate can still seep out, and people can still not have control.

    And, as to the “liar” part, well, that can be an issue. “Fluid bonding” and “total trust” aren’t necessarily synonyms for “long-term relationship.” Which is another reason to be wary of cheaters.

    Ideally (based on training at a sex education and referral service I volunteered with as a teenager) it’s best to use *two* forms of contraception, i.e. condoms and foam, a diaphragm and spermicide, etc. So what I took away from the “withdrawal is statistically comparable to condoms for contraception” is that if all you’ve got is a condom then it’s probably a good idea to “double up” by *also* withdrawing and ejaculating somewhere besides inside one’s partner’s body. (And yes, this makes me a curmudgeon.)

    @trillie “learning a lot about me and my moods just knowing my cycle…”

    I’ve heard from a number of natural birth-control advocates that that’s a great reason to do charting even if you wouldn’t use it as your primary form of contraception.


  11. As usual, everything you say is true (and well-written!).

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year. I’m not using any contraceptive but the CycloTest, a temperature computer which is great by the way. I am actually a lot about me and my moods just knowing my cycle, and I am so happy not to put hormones in me — but I digress :o) So when there’s baby icons flashing happily on the screen, it’s (technically) condom time — only that the condoms have appeared less and less the longer we have been going out. We find, um, alternatives, but often we do use the withdrawal method. Frankly, when I think about it, I am appalled at myself I let us do this as I consider it careless. It is either a statistical miracle I haven’t become pregnant, or my guy is just really good at it (probably inversely proportional to his undying love for condoms). You know, after reading your post, I’m going to make an appointment with my gynecologist first thing tomorrow and ask her about a loop. Thanks for the reminder!

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