Withdrawal (pulling out)

  • 80-96 % Effective
  • No STI Protection
  • Single use

What is withdrawal (pulling out)?

Withdrawal is when the penis is withdrawn (pulled out) of the vagina before ejaculation (cumming). It is not recommended as a method of contraception, especially for young people (who are most fertile) but is more effective than using no contraception.

How effective is withdrawal?

If withdrawal is used perfectly with the penis removed before ejaculation every time you have sex, it can be 96% effective at preventing pregnancy. Given it can be difficult to withdraw the penis during sex, withdrawal with real-life use is closer to 80% effective (typical use).

How does withdrawal work?

The withdrawal method works by lowering the chance of sperm entering the vagina when ejaculation (cumming) occurs outside of the vagina.

How to use withdrawal

Withdraw (pull out) the penis from the vagina before ejaculation (cumming). It is important that the ejaculate (cum) is not near the vaginal opening.

Illustration of withdrawal (pulling out)

If you are going to have sex a second time, there could be sperm left inside the penis, on the penis or on the hands. Before having sex again, sperm can be cleared from the penis by passing urine (pee) and washing the penis and cleared from the hands by washing them thoroughly with soap and water.

What stops withdrawal from working?

  • If there is sperm in the pre-ejaculate (pre-cum).
  • Not withdrawing (pulling out) in time.

What is good about withdrawal?

  • No cost.
  • Always available.
  • Does not use devices or medications.
  • No side effects.

Are there any side effects from using withdrawal?

There are no side effects from using withdrawal.

Can withdrawal cause any serious health problems?

There are no serious health risks from using withdrawal.

Reasons why withdrawal might not be a good option

  • There could be a health risk to you or the baby if pregnancy occurred. This is because the risk of pregnancy when using withdrawal is higher than with many other types of contraception.
  • If ejaculation (cumming) happens quickly or without much warning.
  • It is difficult to withdraw the penis during sex.

What if I had sex without using withdrawal?

If you or your partner do not want to be pregnant, you might need emergency contraception, if you had sex without using withdrawal or other contraception (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

What if pregnancy happens while using withdrawal?

It is safe to continue the pregnancy or to have an abortion.

Can I use withdrawal after I have had a baby?

You can use withdrawal any time after giving birth.

What else should I know about withdrawal?

You might be interested in watching:

Where to get more information and support

If you are using the internet for information, only use reliable and reputable websites, such as the ones provided above.

This website and any related materials are for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as (or in substitution for) medical or other professional advice. You should seek specific medical or professional advice for your individual circumstances.

Copyright ©
The copyright for material on this website is owned by Sexual Health Victoria (or, in some cases, by third parties) and is subject to the Copyright Act 1968. We permit you to reproduce or communicate our copyright material if you are a not-for-profit educational organisation, for the purpose of providing the information to your students provided that you include any disclaimers associated with that material. Any other reproduction or communication of our material requires our prior consent, via our consent form which you can complete and submit.

Last updated: 10 June 2021