Dear. Dr. Sex,
Hi there! So..I’m thinking of finally having sex with my partner. We’ve talked about precautions to take, the positions we want to try out, and everything. The truth is…I’m having doubts if the withdrawal method actually works.
My boyfriend has prior experience with his exes so he’s pretty confident with it. He also mentioned he’ll use protection too just to be sure. But I am still having lots of worries if I’d get pregnant when we actually get down to it. What if the condom breaks? Will pulling out be enough? As you can probably tell, I’m really scared but I’m also excited to do this with him. So I want to do it right.
What should I keep in mind? Are there risks if we only rely on the withdrawal? What should I do to have sex safely?
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m glad you are taking the time to talk it out with your partner and that you’re preparing before doing anything.
There are lots of things to consider when it comes to the withdrawal method and to answer your main question: Even with perfect use, the pull-out or withdrawal method isn’t 100 percent effective. In a study, 22 percent of people using withdrawal become pregnant. This is not because the pull-out method doesn’t work, it’s because it can be difficult to control various factors involved during sex.
The withdrawal method may sound straightforward, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. It’s important to nail your timing. Contrary to common belief, some studies suggest that pre-cum can contain some sperm. This would mean that there is a slight risk of pregnancy even if the withdrawal takes place before ejaculation.
Pull-out method isn’t risk-free either, so you as a couple should have a discussion beforehand about any potential risks. Thorough communication between you and your partner is key. That includes what you are going to do if pull-out fails. Wearing a condom together with pulling out, as your partner suggested, is a good way to ensure double protection, especially if you don’t want to solely rely on pulling out.
A benefit to using withdrawal method is that it can enhance the effectiveness of other birth control methods. Not everyone feels comfortable relying on one form of birth control.
Using the pull-out method along with using another method like a condom, allows double protection, which further reduces the risk of pregnancy. Plus, pulling out has no side effects. Other forms of birth control can cause mood changes and headaches. The withdrawal method eliminates those entirely!
Regular STI testing is a must. The withdrawal method doesn’t guarantee protection against sexually transmitted infections (STI). Considering that your boyfriend has former partners and that you’re in a committed relationship, I recommend getting tested before engaging in unprotected sex. STI testing is a must regardless of your sexual history.
Another question you may have is “what happens when withdrawal method fails?” Besides abstinence, no birth control is really perfect. With only relying on withdrawal, you risk on getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) . If you suspect that you may be exposed to an STI, consult with your healthcare provider.
It doesn’t end with STIs either, you potentially risk pregnancy. Pregnancy is possible each time ejaculation occurs during sex. If you suspect you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test after missing your period.
Solely relying on the withdrawal method is pretty risky as you may have read. But there are ways to counter risks. There are available methods to make the withdrawal method more effective if you prepare with these steps:
Track ovulation. The ovulating partner, can use the fertility awareness method to help prevent pregnancy. Tracking your ovulation means keeping tabs on when fertility occurs. This tracking method aims to avoid the pull-out method or sex in general during their fertile window.
Practice with a condom. Wearing a condom not only protects against pregnancy, it also allows you to practice the withdrawal method without any risk. This allows the ejaculating partner to work on the timing without having to stress about unwanted pregnancy.
Use withdrawal method as a secondary birth control method. To further emphasize on my tip earlier, withdrawal method can be a great supplemental method that you can use along with condoms or birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy. You can enjoy safe sex as long as you have the perfect pull out timing and the use of another method.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I wish you and your partner the best of luck!