Is withdrawal (pulling out) effective?

Men involuntarily release precum, or pre-ejaculatory fluid, shortly before they have an orgasm and ejaculate. The chances of getting pregnant with precum and the pull out method are approximately 22 percent, but the actual rate is difficult to predict.
Men involuntarily release precum, or pre-ejaculatory fluid, shortly before they have an orgasm and ejaculate. The chances of getting pregnant with precum and the pull out method are approximately 22 percent, but the actual rate is difficult to predict.

Men involuntarily release precum, also called pre-ejaculatory fluid, shortly before they have an orgasm and ejaculate. While this precum doesn't normally contain sperm, in some men it does. If there is sperm in the precum, it could get inside your vagina and fertilize an egg, leading to pregnancy.

‌Pulling out before ejaculation to prevent pregnancy is called the withdrawal method. When done perfectly, this method of birth control is 96% effective. However, it's difficult to do perfectly, so its actual effectiveness rate is about 78%. ‌

If 100 people use this method, 22 of them will get pregnant in a year. You can increase the effectiveness of the withdrawal method by combining it with other methods such as condoms.

Emergency contraceptive

Emergency contraception (EC) is birth control used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It's sometimes called the morning-after pill. However, it's most effective when taken soon after unprotected sex occurred. EC prevents pregnancy from happening. It does not cause an abortion, and it's not effective if pregnancy has already taken place.

You can buy some types of EC pills over the counter, and some require a prescription from your doctor. An IUD can also be used for emergency contraception. The different types of emergency contraceptives include:

  • Copper IUD, which can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex and left in for long-term contraception.
  • Ulipristal pills, which can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex and require a prescription
  • Progestin-only pills, which is most effective if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex and can be bought without a prescription
  • Combined birth control pills, which can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Your doctor can tell you how to take these.

What are the most effective birth control methods?

There are four general types of non-emergency birth control options. Some are more effective than others. The best type for you will depend on factors such as your age and if you want to have children soon or not. The different types are:

Short-Acting Hormonal Contraception. Hormonal birth control works by changing your body's natural level of progestin and/or estrogen. All short-acting hormonal contraceptives require a prescription. They are 91% to 95% effective. Some of the most common methods include:

  • Pills that you take daily
  • A patch that you apply weekly
  • A vaginal ring that you insert monthly
  • A shot your doctor gives you every 3 months

Long-Term Contraception. Long-term contraceptives are a good option if you don't plan to have children in the next few years. They can last from 3 to 10 years and are 99% effective. Once they are put in, you don't have to worry about birth control until you're ready to take them out. There are two different types of long-term contraceptives, including implants and IUDs.

Implants and hormonal IUDs work by changing your body's progestin level over time. Copper IUDs are hormone-free. They use copper to stop sperm from fertilizing your eggs.

One-Time Barrier Contraception. Barrier contraceptives work by physically stopping sperm from fertilizing your egg. You need to use these every time you have sex. Because you have to use them correctly every time, they are not as effective as other forms of birth control. They are 71% to 88% effective but can be combined with other methods for greater effectiveness. 

Barrier contraceptive methods include:

  • Condoms
  • Sponges
  • Diaphragms
  • Cervical caps
  • Spermicide

Permanent Contraception. Permanent contraception involves a surgical procedure to make pregnancy impossible. It is almost 100% effective. There are procedures available for women and men. The procedure for women is called tubal ligation. Your fallopian tubes, which connect your ovaries and uterus, are cut, tied, or blocked to prevent an egg from traveling from your ovaries to your uterus.

Sexually transmitted diseases

While some birth control methods are very effective at preventing pregnancy, condoms are the only method that can also prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can lower your risk of catching an STD. You can still get some STDs such as herpes and HPV even when you use a condom. Some other ways to prevent STDs include:

  • Practice abstinence by not having oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
  • Only have sex with one partner who is only having sex with you. Both of you should get tested for STDs.
  • Get the HPV vaccine, which prevents the most common STD.
  • Talk with your partner about preventing STDs.
  • Get tested so you can be treated if you have an STD.

QUESTION

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Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2021
References
SOURCES:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Emergency Contraception."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases."

HealthPartners: "5 types of birth control options: which is best for you?"

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: "Can You Prevent Pregnancy with the Pullout Method?"

TeensHealth: "Can You Get Pregnant From Pre-Ejaculate?"