What Is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal, also called pulling out, is when a male removes his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates during sex.

How Does Withdrawal Work?

By trying to keep sperm from entering the vagina, a person using withdrawal hopes to prevent pregnancy.

How Well Does Withdrawal Work?

Over the course of a year, about 22 out of 100 typical couples who use withdrawal alone to prevent pregnancy will have an accidental pregnancy.

Even for people who think they are doing it correctly, withdrawal is not an effective way to prevent pregnancy. Without the guy knowing, some sperm leak out of the penis even before ejaculation. This means that even if the guy pulls out before he ejaculates, a girl can still become pregnant. Also, if the guy ejaculates close to the outside of the vagina, the sperm can swim up into the vagina. However, withdrawal is considered a better method of contraception than none at all.

Does Withdrawal Help Prevent STDs?

No. Withdrawal does not protect against STDs. Couples having sex must always use condoms to protect against STDs even when using another method of birth control.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

A girl who uses withdrawal should call the doctor if she:

  • might be pregnant
  • has a change in the smell or color of vaginal discharge
  • has unexplained fever or chills
  • has belly or pelvic pain
  • has pain during sex
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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