We provide information about the withdrawal or pull-out method, how it works if it's effective, and the disadvantages. Also, how safe its withdrawal.


Withdrawal is one of the oldest forms of contraception. It is very simple – the man pulls out of the woman before he ejaculates. With this method, you need to do it right every single time.

Quick Facts

Withdrawal is free and does not require a visit to the health care provider

  • Effectiveness: somewhat effective. But only if the guy pulls out every single time. With common use, only 78 out of every 100 individuals will manage to prevent pregnancy.
  • Side effects: no hormones, no devices, no side effects
  • Effort: high. The man has to pull out every time you have sex
  • Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


[5] You would not mind getting pregnant. The failure rate for withdrawal is high. If you do not want to get pregnant, then you should use another method.
The male is aware of when he will ejaculate. Withdrawal requires a high level of awareness and the ability to predict ejaculation (and pull out before it happens). Keep in mind that pre-cum can also contain sperm. So even if he pulls out before ejaculation, the woman is still at risk of getting pregnant.
You can use it with another method. You can use withdrawal as a back-up with another method.
It is very inexpensive. Withdrawal is better than nothing and it is completely free.[3]
No prescription is necessary.

How To Use

The withdrawal method is dependent on the male and his self-control. He needs to pull out before he ejaculates AND he needs to keep his semen away from the woman’s vulva when he does. So it is really important that the male understands his sexual response patterns.
Withdrawal is always better than nothing – but it is fairly risky if you are serious about not getting pregnant.

Side Effects

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.
The Positive:[5]

  • One of the most inexpensive methods
  • No prescription necessary

The Negative:[3]

  • The only side effect of withdrawal is the possibility of getting pregnant before you are ready
  • Difficult to perform perfectly every single time
  • Hard to remember to do if you are drunk
  • You might want to use a spermicide along with pulling out to make withdrawal more effective.


[1] Planned Parenthood . (2020). Withdrawal (Pull Out Method). Retrieved from Planned Parenthood https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method
[2] SOGC The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2016). Contraception. Retrieved from https://www.sexandu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Contraception_Methods_Booklet.pdf
[3] Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2015). Canadian Contraception Consensus Chapter 4: Natural Family Planning. JOGC Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. Retrieved from https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(16)39375-6/pdf
[4] Vogelsong, K. M. (2017). Natural Contraceptive Methods. UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, (HRP) Department of Reproductive Health and Research World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.gfmer.ch/Endo/Lectures_11/Naturalc.htm
[5] World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (2018) Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers. Baltimore and Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/260156/9780999203705-eng.pdf?sequence=1
[6] World Health Organization. (2016). Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use. Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/252267/9789241565400-eng.pdf?sequence=1