Coitus Interruptus

Are You Kidding?

When we think of birth control we probably wouldn't put coitus interruptus (withdrawal method) at the top of the list. Today, just the mention of the withdrawal method of birth control can bring a variety of reactions, from snickers to shock to sheer disbelief. Yet, there has been some recent research into the subject and the results may be surprising to many people. What may be even more surprising is the numbers of couples who are using the withdrawal method of birth control with success - some thirty-eight million couples worldwide in 1991.

The method, which requires the male to pull his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation and to ejaculate in a place far enough away from his partner's legs, vulva, and vagina so as not to spread any semen, is one of the oldest methods of birth control in the world. It is also the one method of birth control that sex education classes condemn as too risky.

Even though the withdrawal method of birth control is not as effective as some of the other methods of contraception, the fact remains that it is better than nothing, it is convenient and it has no costs to it (as long as pregnancy doesn't occur.) Typically, when used correctly and consistently, coitus interruptus has about the same failure rate as condoms, that is 18 and 17 percent respectively.

Pre-Ejaculate and Pregnancy

One of the big issues those against this method of birth control site is that pre-ejaculate can cause pregnancy. However, there have been two studies by the National Institutes of Health that debunk this as a myth. The findings of these studies show there is no sperm in the pre-ejaculate fluid. The only way sperm will make its way into the fluid is if the male had ejaculated within a few hours of the time he is having sex. If he had ejaculated, then going to the bathroom voids the penis of ejaculate and wiping the penis well will remove any excess that can possibly be passed on.

Another argument against the withdrawal method of birth control is that it can be misused by teens, especially young males who may not be able to control themselves or even sense when ejaculation is near. Not knowing when he is about to ejaculate may seem a bit difficult to understand; however, Wikipedia says that, "A leading exponent of withdrawal in the mid-nineteenth century was a religious based "utopian commune" called the Oneida community in New York. To minimize the incidence of pregnancy, teenage males were not permitted to engage in sexual intercourse except with postmenopausal women until such time as they mastered the withdrawal technique." Enough said.

Even though it is not the most favored method of birth control, in 2002, the National Survey of Family Growth reported that 56 percent of all sexually experienced women relied on withdrawal at some time in their lives. It also reported that about 82 percent have used the pill and 90 percent have used condoms. The most effective forms of birth control are hormones and the IUD (intra-uterine device); however, statistics show that many women cannot use them or cannot afford them.

Male Reliability

The question of male reliability to comply seems to come into play as a deterrent. There has been a prevailing thought that any birth control method that relies upon the willpower of a man is bound for failure, especially when it comes to teen sex. Some women hold the idea that a man may sabotage the pull-out method in a bid to enjoy every last bit of the sexual experience. Although that may be so in some instances, the argument to that philosophy may lie in the fact that men, at least in this case, can't seem to win for losing when it comes to sex and reproductive health. Saying that contraception is a couple's responsibility and then divesting one part of the couple doesn't make a lot of sense.

The real value to coitus interruptus is in the case of couples in monogamous relationship who are not at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and for whom a pregnancy would not be the end of the world.

Learn more about the various methods of birth control here.

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