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Quick Facts

Less effective


Does not protect from STDs

More effective if used with another method

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More About Withdrawal

Withdrawal, also known as pulling out, works when the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation (cumming).  It works by keeping semen away from the vagina.  But it takes a lot of willpower to stop during sex and pull out. Even if your partner has that kind of self-control, it’s easy to slip up. For withdrawal to be effective, it is recommended to use another birth control method such as a condom.

Your partner has to know what it feels like when they are about to cum and be able and willing to stop sex and pull out at that point. Even a tiny amount of sperm can cause a pregnancy, so to work it has to be done perfectly every single time you have sex. It is advised to keep emergency contraception handy in case this happens.

This method does NOT protect you from STDs. STDs can still spread by skin-to-skin contact, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids.

How to Use Withdrawal

For withdrawal to work, the penis needs to be pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation (cumming). It’s important to pull all the way out and aim the penis away from the vulva (the outside part of the genitals), since even a tiny bit of semen can cause pregnancy.

You and your partner also need to use great communication.  It’s a good idea to practice pulling out with condoms. This way you can learn what signs your partner gives when they are about to cum, and if there is a slip up you are still protected.

Withdrawal works better when used with another method. Condoms or internal condoms are a great choice and will protect you from STDs as well as pregnancy.

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Orange donut chart showing 73%. The title says "73% effective with typical use"
Yellow donut chart showing 96%. The title says "96% effective with perfect use"


  • 73% effective with typical use. This means that on average, 27 out of 100 women using this method will get pregnant in a year. You can improve effectiveness by:
    • Withdrawing perfectly every single time. That means pulling out all the way and aiming the penis away from the vulva before cumming.
    • Using with another method such as a condom or a diaphragm
  • 96% effective with perfect use. This means that if withdrawal is used correctly all the time, 4 out of 100 women will get pregnant in a year. But the fact is most people are not able to pull out perfectly every time.


  • You don’t need a doctor visit or a trip to the store to use it
  • There are no side effects – except the high risk of pregnancy
  • It’s better than not using any birth control
  • You can use it with any other kind of birth control to make that method more effective
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  • High risk of pregnancy
  • It’s hard to do it perfectly every time
  • Takes lots of self control and communication between partners
  • Doesn’t protect you from STDs

Family PACT Coverage

Withdrawal is free and you don’t need to see a doctor to use it. However, if you are eligible, a provider can still talk with you about using withdrawal and whether or not it is a good choice for you.  You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Provider Search” button in the right hand corner of this page.

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