Click to talk to a trained teen volunteer.

FAQ: How effective is the withdrawal method? Should it be used?

How effective is the withdrawal method? Should it be used?

So, withdrawal is a form of birth control where someone takes their penis out of their partner’s vagina before ejaculation. When used perfectly it is 96% effective. When used imperfectly, though, it can be just 81% effective.

If you’re worried that you’re going to ejaculate all of a sudden and not pull out in time, you can always learn more about your body by masturbating! This is a good, no pressure way to learn and start recognizing the signs that your body gives when you’re about to come. Withdrawal gets harder to do effectively when people are drunk or high or not paying attention to their own bodies, so that’s something to think about.

It’s also good to keep in mind that people don’t have to wait until right before they’re going to ejaculate to pull out! It’s totally okay to have some penetrative sex, but pull out and finish through oral sex or masturbation.

Like all types of sex, communication is key. Talk about if withdrawal is going to be your only method of birth control, what to do if someone doesn’t pull out in time (maybe discuss getting and paying for Plan B?), and, maybe most importantly, negotiate with them about where the semen is going to end up. Having these conversations (and following through with them as discussed!) can build trust between partners, and help everyone involved relax and enjoy sex a lot more.

Ooh, also, withdrawal does not protect you against transmitting or acquiring an STI.

For more information, check out our page on withdrawal (link).

  • Kids These Days: Let’s Talk About (Safer) Sex!

    The latest episode of Kid These Days features an interview with Andrew Townsend, the Coordinator for Teen Health Source. Check out this brand new podcast!

  • Call for Nuance Fellowship Positions

    Nuance is looking for passionate (im)migrant young (under 29) writers, artists, and community-builders to help diversify and expand mainstream ideas around sex, sexuality, and sexual health and add their nuanced perspectives into the conversation!


    People have lots of different terms and definitions when it comes to understanding their sexual orientations or gender identities. This post helps lay out some of the more widely mentioned definitions, and talks about how we can improve our resources to be more inclusive!