Coitus interruptus

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Template:BirthControl infobox Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal or the pull out method, is a method of contraception in which, during sexual intercourse, the penis is removed from the vagina prior to ejaculation, primarily to avoid introducing semen into the vagina. Coitus interruptus may also more generally refer to any extraction of the penis prior to ejaculation during intercourse. This method has been widely used for at least 2,000 years and was used by an estimated 38 million couples worldwide in 1991.[1]


Like many methods of birth control, reliable effectiveness is achieved only by correct and consistent use. Observed failure rates of withdrawal vary depending on the population being studied: studies have found actual failure rates of 15-28% per year.[2] In comparison the pill has an actual use failure rate of 2-8%,[3] while the diaphragm has an actual use failure rate of 10-39%.[4][2] The condom has an actual use failure rate of 10-18%.[2]

For couples that use withdrawal correctly at every act of intercourse, the failure rate is 4% per year. In comparison the pill has a perfect-use failure rate of 0.3%, while the diaphragm has a perfect use failure rate of 6%. The condom has a perfect-use failure rate of 2%.[5]

The primary cause of failure of the withdrawal method is the lack of self-control of those using it. Poor timing of the withdrawal can result in semen on the vulva, which can easily migrate into the female reproductive tract. Some medical professionals view withdrawal as an ineffective method of birth control.[6] In contrast, a recent study in Iran found that provinces with higher rates of withdrawal use do not have higher fertility rates, and that the contribution of withdrawal use to unintended pregnancies is not markedly different from that of other commonly used methods such as the pill or condom.[7]

It has been suggested that the pre-ejaculate ("Cowper's fluid"), fluid emitted by the penis prior to ejaculation, contains spermatozoa (sperm cells), which can easily pass into the upper female genital tract in the presence of cervical mucus.[8] However, several small studies[9][10] have failed to find any viable sperm in the fluid. While no large conclusive studies have been done, it is now believed the primary cause of method (correct-use) failure is the pre-ejaculate fluid picking up sperm from a previous ejaculation.[11] For this reason, it is recommended that users of withdrawal have the male partner urinate between ejaculations, to clear the urethra of sperm, and wash any ejaculate from objects that might come near the woman's vulva (e.g. hands and his penis).[12]


The advantage of coitus interruptus is that it can be used by people who have objections to or do not have access to other forms of contraception. (Some men prefer it so they can protect their partners from possible adverse effects of contraceptives.)[13] It has no monetary cost, requires no artificial devices, has no physical side effects, and can be practiced without a prescription or medical consultation.


The method is largely ineffective in the prevention of STDs, like HIV, since pre-ejaculate may carry viral particles or bacteria which may infect the partner if this fluid comes in contact with mucous membranes. However, a reduction in the volume of bodily fluids exchanged during intercourse may reduce the likelihood of disease transmission due to the smaller number of pathogens present.[10]

The method may be difficult for some couples to use. The interruption of intercourse may leave some couples sexually frustrated or unsatisfied.[14]


Worldwide, 3% of women of childbearing age rely on withdrawal as their primary method of contraception. Regional popularity of the method varies widely, from a low of 1% on the African continent to 16% in Western Asia. (Data from surveys during the late 1990s).[15]

In the United States, 56% of women of reproductive age have had a partner use withdrawal. In 2002, 2.5% were using withdrawal as their primary method of contraception.[16]

See also


  1. Rogow D, Horowitz S (1995). "Withdrawal: a review of the literature and an agenda for research". Studies in family planning. 26 (3): 140–53. doi:10.2307/2137833. PMID 7570764., which cites:
    Population Action International (1991). "A Guide to Methods of Birth Control." Briefing Paper No. 25, Washington, D. C.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kippley, John (1996). The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th addition ed.). Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League. pp. p.146. ISBN 0-926412-13-2. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help), which cites:
    Guttmacher Institute (1992). "Choice of Contraceptives". The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics. 34: 111–114.
    Hatcher, RA (1994). Contraceptive Technology (Sixteenth Revised Edition ed.). New York: Irvington Publishers. ISBN 0-8290-3171-5. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  3. Audet MC, Moreau M, Koltun WD, Waldbaum AS, Shangold G, Fisher AC, Creasy GW (2001). "Evaluation of contraceptive efficacy and cycle control of a transdermal contraceptive patch vs an oral contraceptive: a randomized controlled trial" (Slides of comparative efficacy]). JAMA. 285 (18): 2347–54. PMID 11343482.
    Guttmacher Institute. "Contraceptive Use". Facts in Brief. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved 2005-05-10. - see table First-Year Contraceptive Failure Rates
  4. Bulut A, Ortayli N, Ringheim K, Cottingham J, Farley T, Peregoudov A, Joanis C, Palmore S, Brady M, Diaz J, Ojeda G, Ramos R (2001). "Assessing the acceptability, service delivery requirements, and use-effectiveness of the diaphragm in Colombia, Philippines, and Turkey". Contraception. 63 (5): 267–75. PMID 11448468.
  5. Hatcher, RA (2000). Contraceptive Technology (18th Edition ed.). New York: Ardent Media. ISBN 0-9664902-6-6. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  6. Creatsas G (1993). "Sexuality: sexual activity and contraception during adolescence". Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 5 (6): 774–83. PMID 8286689.
  7. Template:Cite paper
  8. "Withdrawal (coitus interruptus)". Reproductive Health Online: The Reading Room. JHPIEGO. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  9. Zukerman, Z. (April 2003). "Short Communication: Does Preejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper's Gland Contain Sperm?". Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. 20 (4): 157–159. PMID 12762415. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
    Free M, Alexander N (1976). "Male contraception without prescription. A reevaluation of the condom and coitus interruptus" (PDF). Public Health Rep. 91 (5): 437–45. PMID 824668. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Researchers find no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid". Contraceptive Technology Update. 14 (10): 154–156. October 1993. PMID 12286905.
  11. "Withdrawal Method". Planned Parenthood. March 2004. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
  12. Delvin, David (January 17, 2005). "Coitus interruptus (Withdrawal method)". Retrieved 2006-07-13.
  13. Ortayli, N; et al. (2005). "Why Withdrawal? Why not withdrawal? Men's perspectives". Reproductive Health Matters. 25 (13): 164–73. PMID 16035610.
  14. "Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal)". Abstinence & Natural Birth Control Methods. Sexually Transmitted Disease Resource. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
  15. Template:Cite paper
  16. Chandra, A (2005). "Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth" (PDF). Vital Health Stat. National Center for Health Statistics. 23 (25). Retrieved 2007-05-20. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help) See Tables 53 and 56.

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