Pregnancy worries are some of the most common types of questions we get on EmpowHER. We are continually troubled by the lack of sex education or general knowledge of our teen members with regard to how their bodies work, what causes pregnancy and how to avoid it.
One of the main issues we see is young women not using birth control, or believing that the withdrawal method is as good as condoms or the birth control pill, even around ovulation time. We often advise that this is not a safe practice for many. A new study seems to confirm this.
According to research from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., about one-third of girls and young women (between 15-24 years of age) had used the birth control method of withdrawal (withdrawing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation) to avoid pregnancy at least one time.
But compared to those who used methods like birth control pills and condoms, 21 percent of women who used the withdrawal method at least once got pregnant, compared to 13 percent of women who used other methods.
Ironically, women who used the withdrawal method on a more regular basis with a partner were less likely to get pregnant. Dr. Angela Chen, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of California, Los Angeles believes this is because long-term couples have a vested interest in family planning and communicate better.
This may be due to their deeper understanding of menstrual cycles and research into more safe times to have sex than others. The author of the study, Dr. Annie Dude, said that she believes young women who use withdrawal in an emergency sense, may still think it's safe even during ovulation or ignore the risks, thus making the withdrawal method unreliable in a general sense.
Another expert who was interviewed, Dr. Kari Braaten, believes that the withdrawal method is used by those who don't take the time to prepare for sex, and simply because it's easier.
Researchers think that doctors don't discuss this method of birth control with their patients, possibly thinking it's an old-fashioned method that isn't used much anymore.