Withdrawal for Birth Control

First and foremost, it is important to note that there are no studies on perfect use of withdrawal. Estimated perfect use of withdrawal is 96%. This statistic is based on sperm in lab samples NOT on a couple using withdrawal for one year. Typical use of withdrawal is more evidence-based. Typical use generally has a 20% failure rate over one year. Use withdrawal at your own risk based on your intentions. There is no guarantee that perfect use efficacy can be achieved because no studies have been done proving this. However, there are tips for making sure withdrawal is less likely to fail. When using withdrawal, you are relying entirely on the person with the penis to pull out in time.

This file was originally created by Aisha Mukooza and details her experience.


1)  He urinates before and in-between rounds. This is to ensure that residue sperm from a previous ejaculation is flushed out of the urethra.
2)  He withdraws way before the actual ejaculation. This is to ensure that he doesn’t fail to withdrawal in time.
3)  He ejaculates far away from the vagina/vulva. This is to ensure there’s no accidental transmission of sperm in the vagina/vulva.
Note: Both of you should wash off (the semen) immediately to ensure there’s no accidental transmission of sperm in the vagina/vulva.

How I Practice Withdrawal

Sometimes there are no answers but within. If you know you’re practicing the method right of birth control (BC) and you don’t see how sperm may get to the egg, and are extra diligent about it, you can make your own conclusions about it. Most people do the bare minimum required of them so statistics can be misleading. For example, the first time I heard about withdrawal, folks were talking about how impossible it can be to withdraw in time.
I was left with the thoughts of what if someone were to master the ART of withdrawing in time? If they do, could they use withdrawal as an effective method of BC? Of course they could. When I found out about the pre-ejaculation, I started looking online on how one can minimize that risk. I found out about urinating before sex and in-between rounds to flush out residual sperm from a previous ejaculation. There was also the counter argument of pre-ejaculation containing sperm, not, like I thought, picking it up from a previous ejaculation. This made me scared.
There was a study I read about where they collected ~20 men’s pre-ejaculation specimens and tested them for sperm. Most didn’t contain sperm but a few did. What was wrong with that study was that they didn’t find out if all the men had an earlier ejaculation or not, or have all of them urinate before collecting the pre-ejaculation specimen. Nobody seems to care enough to do another study as they seem to call it irresponsible for anyone who uses withdrawal for BC. (I actually found another study on withdrawal that claims pre-ejaculation may contain sperm http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564677/ ).
Anyway, I focused on getting rid of precum altogether. I meant to ask my fiancé to do some observations on when he’s most likely to pre-ejaculate but he already knew (yeah!). He told me that after sex, if he urinated, he always noticed pre-ejaculation a few hours later. If he hadn’t urinated at all after sex though, he noticed pre-ejaculation right away to a few minute, hours later; he would feel uncomfortable so he would eventually urinate anyway. If he didn’t have sex at all, there was never any pre-ejaculation. If he made out for a long time, no PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, this led to pre-ejaculation sometimes. With this knowledge, we came up with the rule of having sex only once during the follicular phase as there was no pre-ejaculation the first time he had sex. He observed the tip of his penis right before he ejaculated to see if there was any pre-ejaculation (he just felt the tip of his penis with his figures right before he ejaculated). We sometimes did this the first year we practiced withdrawal but not thereafter. With that info in hand, all we were left with was to perfect the actual art of withdrawing in time.

Also, withdrawal requires serious communication. I made sure my fiancé understood how important it was for him to communicate to me if he ever felt like he didn’t withdraw in time or if he wasn’t sure. This happened twice the first three or so months. There’s no shame in that. Anyway, we are masters at it now. Still, urinating before sex and after each round makes withdrawal as birth control 96% effective (THIS NUMBER IS AN ESTIMATE). Also, it’s very important not to ejaculate close to the vagina opening which may lead to semen leaking into the vagina. Cleaning any area that may have gotten into contact with semen, like the penis and hands, is just as important; you don’t want semen transmitted back into the vagina by accident.

Checking for Sperm in Pre-Ejaculate

You can use a cheap microscope to see whether your significant other has sperm in precum. You can use the 1200x setting to view it. Several women in the Facebook community have tried it, and no one has found sperm in precum yet .Supposedly, a man either always has sperm in his precum or he never does. As mentioned above, there is also the potential for leftover sperm to be picked up by precum if you don’t wash and urinate between rounds.

Highly recommended additional reading:

An article from Scientific American which discusses the nuances of withdrawal:
Can You Prevent Pregnancy with the Pullout Method?

2 Relevant scientific studies:
Longevity of spermatozoa in the post-ejaculatory urine of fertile men
Presence of Sperm in Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid of Healthy Males