What is Coitus Interruptus?
My partner and I mostly use the withdrawal method for birth control. When I go to the doctor this is never mentioned as a form of birth control, and I never ask. It’s worked for us so far, but does it always work?
Coitus interruptus is a Latin term meaning interrupted intercourse. The clinical term means the withdrawal method of contraception, which is when a man withdraws his penis from his female partner before ejaculating. It is sometimes referred to as “being careful”.
It is true that doctors, nurses, and sexual health educators have not, in the past, talked much about the withdrawal method. It is not a very effective form of birth control, and it does not protect against any STDs, so the inclination has been to focus on better, more effective types of contraception and STD prevention.
However, it is likely that withdrawal is actually the most commonly used form of birth control, and for that reason, sexual health professionals have begun, slowly, to talk about it more.
Does it work? It does work, sometimes. The generally regarded failure rate for withdrawal is 19 percent, meaning if 100 women used withdrawal as their only method of birth control for one year, 19 of them would get pregnant. Keep in mind though that statistics on withdrawal are only as good as the method and people who report them.
The two main disadvantages to withdrawal are that it does not protect from STDs, including HIV, and the failure rate is very high compared to other methods. One of the reasons for this is that prior to ejaculating, a small amount of pre-ejaculate (also called pre-cum) will come out of the penis. There is sperm in pre-ejaculate, and it is possible that this could cause a pregnancy.
There is no question that withdrawal is not a very good form of birth control, and it is not safer sex at all. But it might be considered better than nothing.
How effective is withdrawal as a birth control method?
Withdrawal has a high failure rate, in part because even if the man is able to withdraw on time, pre-ejaculatory fluid may contain traces of sperm. This pre-ejaculatory fluid can enter the vagina before full ejaculation and is much harder to anticipate and control. Also, withdrawal doesn’t provide protection from STDs, including HIV. Infectious diseases can be transmitted by direct contact with surface lesions and by pre-ejaculatory fluid.
Can I get pregnant if I use the withdrawal method? (Pulling out)
Using the withdrawal method for birth control, also known as pulling out, is very risky if you are trying to avoid pregnancy. Prior to ejaculation, there is a small amount of semen released which contains sperm. Even this small amount of semen in your vagina can get you pregnant. Remember it is your body’s natural order to be pregnant, if you are ovulating and the sperm gets to the egg at the right time, even using withdrawal, you are likely to become pregnant.
A pregnancy test is the best way to tell if you are pregnant or not. Though you must wait until you miss your next period to get the most accurate results. This can be a home pregnancy test or a pregnancy test from your doctor, midwife or health department. In most cases you do not have to notify anyone of the test or the results.
If you are trying to avoid getting pregnant find a real method of birth control. Condoms, birth control pills (oral contraceptives), intrauterine device (IUD), foams, Depo Provera shots, patches…there are plenty of methods to choose from. Be sure to ask your midwife, doctor or local health department for advice on the method that is best for you.
Using sex toys is another safe and effective method to get the benefits of intercourse.
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