Withdrawal (pulling out) is when the partner pulls out before ejaculation.

Suits some couples.

1 in 5 (~20%) risk of pregnancy.



  • No need to see a doctor, nurse or healthcare professional
  • Free of charge
  • No hormones
  • Acceptable for people whose religion or culture forbids other methods


  • Requires extreme self control and body awareness from the partner
  • It’s not a very reliable way of preventing pregnancy
  • There can be small deposits of sperm before orgasm (ejaculation)
  • Some people find withdrawing unsatisfying for sexual pleasure
  • Difficult to do it every time

If you want to avoid hormones, there are other methods which might be more suitable

If you're keen to avoid hormones, contraception methods like the copper coil or diaphgram might be more suitable because they are more effective. You can still have skin to skin contact with a partner with these methods

Doctors and nurses don't recommend withdrawal because other methods are much more reliable, but it suits some people well

What's right for you?

Good to know

Pulling out suits some couples, especially if pregnancy would be a happy surprise

It’s acceptable for people whose religion or culture forbids other methods

How much effort is pulling out?

Timing is everything with the withdrawal method, and it’s totally reliant on the partner to know when they needs to pull out for it to work effectively

It can be done in combination with other methods, for example, using condoms at a woman's most fertile times, and withdrawing at other times

How effective is pulling out?

When used perfectly, the withdrawal method is about 96% – meaning that if 100 people used withdrawal for a year, about 4 of them will have an unplanned pregnancy.  However, allowing for the ups and downs of life, the average user can expect it to be around 78% effective – meaning that if 100 women used withdrawal every day for a year, about 22 of them will have an unplanned pregnancy

How does it work?

The partner pulls their penis out of the vagina before they come, to ejaculate outside the vagina

What's right for you?