We’re not gonna lie, withdrawal is better than nothing, but the chance of messing it up is really high—and unfortunately, that gets a lot of teens into trouble.

Somewhat effective, but depends on always pulling out in time. Always.
No hormones, no devices, no side effects.
Doesn’t cost a thing—but you may want to look at the cost of having a baby before you try it.
Nothing to get—except a lot of cooperation and trust.
Withdrawal is always better than nothing—but it's pretty darn risky if you're serious about not getting pregnant.

We’re not gonna lie, withdrawal is better than nothing, but the chance of messing it up is really high—and unfortunately, that gets a lot of teens into trouble. The method is that the guy pulls out before he ejaculates. That’s it. Some people call withdrawal the “pullout method.” Or you may hear people call it “coitus interruptus.” The key thing to remember is this: You have to do it right—every single time—for withdrawal to be effective.

Your partner has super control.

A person needs to be a pro in bed for withdrawal to work. Really. They have to be totally in tune with their body and able to predict when theyll come.

You wouldn’t mind getting pregnant if it happened.

The typical use failure rate for withdrawal is around 22%. That’s pretty darn high.

There are better cheap options.

Now that most contraceptives are available at no cost to you, it’s hard to justify withdrawal as a way to save $$$.

No prescription necessary.

Enough said, eh?


The withdrawal method is completely dependent on your partner and their self-control. They have to make sure they pull out before they ejaculate AND they have to keep semen away from the vulva. So it’s really important that your partner understands their own sexual response patterns. They should also pee before you have sex in case there are any sperm hanging out from a previous ejaculation.

Bottom line

Withdrawal is always better than nothing—but it’s pretty darn risky if you’re serious about not getting pregnant.

Withdrawal is a method that is totally free, but risky. While you won’t have to spend anything to use it, you have to do it correctly every single time for it to work.

STIs are still a risk.

Remember—STIs can be transmitted through intimate contact, even if your partner doesn’t ejaculate inside of you. Be sure you and your partner have both been tested for STIs and have talked openly about your statuses. If you aren’t sure about your status or your partner’s status, use a condom.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every birth control method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friends experience.

The Positive

  • As inexpensive as it gets
  • No prescription necessary

The Negative

  • A very real possibility of having a baby before you’re ready
  • Difficult to perform perfectly every single time
  • Hard to get it right if you’re using drugs or alcohol

You might want to use a spermicide along with pulling out to make withdrawal more effective. It’ll only help your odds a little bit, but that’s better than nothing.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out these videos to hear people talk about their experiences with withdrawal.

Adrian, 24, withdrawal


Kesha, 32, withdrawal


Jenny, 26, withdrawal


Expert dirt: “Not very effective, but better than nothing.”