In a recent report, sex researcher Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute claims that the birth control method of withdrawal— more commonly referred to as “pulling out” — is nearly as effective as using condoms.
However, she does not advocate for its use as the sole method of preventing pregnancy but instead suggests that it can be effective in conjunction with other means (i.e.: condoms, the Pill, etc.) or when there is no other alternative available.
“Hormonal and long-acting contraceptive methods, such as the IUD, are the most effective means of preventing pregnancy. However, these methods are not suitable for or available to all women,” Jones says. “Withdrawal can provide ‘extra insurance’ against pregnancy for all couples, even those using hormonal methods. And withdrawal is far more effective at preventing pregnancy than use of no method at all.”
She hopes that the study will encourage more couples to learn more about how to use withdrawal as an effective way to prevent pregnancy when practiced correctly. When compared to condoms, which have a fail rate of 2 percent with perfect use, the article claims that withdrawal has a 4 percent fail rate and presents itself as a legitimate form of pregnancy prevention.
But many people have fired back at Jones and her study, saying that it promotes use of withdrawal and suggests that it should be thought of as equal to using a condom. These opponents call to attention the importance of noting that condoms prevent pregnancy and are proven effective in protecting people from STDs. They also caution the use of withdrawal as the only form of birth control couples use because it can fail nearly 20 percent of the time when done improperly.
What no one disputes is that adding withdrawal to your current method of birth control will further decrease the chances of becoming pregnant. And those who would rely solely on withdrawal, particularly on multiple occasions, are exhibiting irresponsible sexual behavior when other more effective methods are widely available.