Relying On the Pull-Out Method Might Not Be as Dumb as You Thought

Studies show that pulling out has nearly the same effects as using a condom.

A CDC report estimated the second-most commonly used form of contraception amongst teens is pulling out. And nearly 60% of adult women in the United States admitted to using the pullout method at least one time in their life. So, if over half of women feel pulling out, otherwise known as the “withdrawal method,” is good enough for them, why do media sites such as CNN refer to it as “one of the least effective ways to prevent pregnancy?” Fantastic question.

“Withdrawal… is about as effective as condoms at preventing pregnancy,” according to a 2014 study published by Contraception. Reportedly, only 4% of couples who practice using the pullout method will get pregnant within a year. Imperfect use changes that number to 18%. Condom use reflects similar numbers. Male condoms have a 2% failure rate for perfect use and 17% for imperfect use. Even with such a small percentage difference, pulling out still has a reputation for being dangerous and oftentimes lazy.

“There’s definitely a stigma among many educators and medical providers,” said Aida Manduley, queer sexuality educator and executive committee member at the Women of Color Sexual Health Network, in an interview with Broadly. But why? Well, medical professionals resistance to the pullout method is mainly due to fears regarding STIs. “[HIV] can be much scarier and permanent than a pregnancy,” said Aida.

And she’s right. It’s not worth the risk if you’re planning on having casual sex or just getting to know your partner. But if you’re in a committed relationship, and you’ve both been tested for every STI/STD out there, the pullout method ALLEGEDLY/STATISTICALLY reduces the risk of pregnancy with the same amount of success as condom use.

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