Withdrawal, or coitus interruptus, was the most popular method of birth control in the mid-1800s. Although the National Survey of Family Growth (see Chapter 2) estimated that only 2.9% of their sample used withdrawal, most researchers believe this was an underestimate (Kowal, 2004b). Because many couples don’t consider withdrawal a legitimate contraceptive method, they may not report using it (Kowal, 2004b).
How It Works
Withdrawal does not require any advance preparation. A couple engages in sexual intercourse; prior to ejaculation, the male withdraws his penis from the vagina. The ejaculate does not enter the uterus.
Effectiveness rates for withdrawal range from 73% (typical use) to 96% (perfect use). Originally, scientists believed that high failure rates with this method were due to sperm contained in the preejaculatory fluid. However, newer research suggests that preejaculatory fluid has no sperm in it (Kowal, 2004b). Pregnancy can occur, however, if sperm remains in the urethra from a previous ejaculation and is not released during urination.