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Tuesday, June 2 2009

The Withdrawal Method

In a recent Guttmacher Institute article entitled “Better than nothing or saavy risk-reduction practice?,” Rachel K. Jones (along with her three co-authors) pondered, probed and researched the question, is withdrawal a feasible option to prevent pregnancy?

The findings have shocked and relieved, angered and alleviated - but most importantly they’ve made us think..is withdrawal an effective (enough) method against pregnancy? With condom rates failing somewhere between 2 and 17% of the time, does withdrawal, which when done correctly has a failure rate of 18%, work almost as well as latex love, and feel so much better?

Signs seem to point to yes (as does experience with the feel better part) and so does the study. Pulling out has played a role in the European fertility decline, and published reports have shown that between 1995 and 2002 the rates of people using withdrawal as a method of pregnancy prevention has increased by 15%.

The thing is, a lot of us don’t even think of withdrawal as a method…and that has to change..and then really, the point here is larger than a one word response. The point is the dialogue around sexual education needs to continue to expand and while we don’t approve, as a moral majority, of all things all people do, we shouldn’t withdraw information just so we don’t have to deal with the topic of withdrawal.

Sure, pulling out won’t protect you from HPV, herpes or HIV, and if you are high risk, you need to think about that..but if those aren’t your cause for concern, can you not use condoms? That’s for each of us to decide. But whatever we do, I think we can agree that conversation is key, withdrawal and option, and education a must.

Read more at RHRealitycheck.

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2 Responses to “The Withdrawal Method”

  1. figleaf Says:

    Just a quick apples-to-apples nudge: Jones (and at least one FDA study from the 1990s) says failure rates for perfect use of withdrawal is 4% not 18%.

    That doesn’t mean I think we should all toss out the condoms (withdrawal doesn’t little to prevent STIs) but it does mean it would be really good to see a little more targeted research on withdrawal if that many people are really using it.

    Just one for instance: when people say “withdrawal” do they mean brinksmanship-style “pull and pray” when male ejaculation begins? Or do they mean have intercourse for a while and then use hands or other non-PIV methods for the man’s orgasm? And if so is the second version more effective at contraception than the first?

    I think once we knew a little bit more about that we could start talking about whether withdrawal is a good idea or something that should be formally taught. Without knowing I’m not so sure.

    Cool post. I didn’t realize it was so popular in Europe.


  2. Hank Says:

    IF you can afford to play Baby-Maybe (thanks to George Carlin), then withdrawal is certainly an option for birth control. But IF a pregnancy and its aftermath is going to be disasterous, then at least a condom, used properly seems to be a necessity to me.

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