Pull-out method – reliable or not?

Dubravko Lepušić

Dubravko Lepušić

prof., PhD

I have regular intercourses with my girlfriend, but not very often, approximately once in 7 days, but we make the most of that day (multiple intercourses in one day). Lately, we have stopped using condoms as a contraceptive, and for contraception purposes, we use the pull-out method. Even doctors themselves have contradictory opinions about this type of contraception, let alone various “scientific” research that we can read on the Internet. Some claim that this method is almost as reliable as a condom, it is just a matter of self-control, because the fluid that comes out during intercourse does not contain spermatozoa, others claim that sperm from the previous intercourse can remain in the “channels”, which can fertilize the egg cell. I am interested in the expert opinion on how reliable is this method of contraception, if risk of sexually transmitted diseases and self-control are taken out of the equation? Namely, we have recently started practicing intercourse and now we are trying to inform ourselves as much and as well as possible. 

Thank you in advance.

The pull-out method is certainly an unsafe method of contraception and is certainly a worse choice than using a condom, for example.

There are two reasons for that: firstly, since it is a purely subjective method, it depends on whether you will manage not to ejaculate or not. Sometimes you will succeed and sometimes you will not (you will “go” a bit too far) and secondly: it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases like a condom. In addition, as you state, during repeated sexual intercourse, there is a possibility that the remaining ejaculate in the urethra enters the vagina during this repeated sexual intercourse.

Therefore, my recommendation is to use condoms as protection against unwanted pregnancy as well as protection against sexually transmitted diseases. If you still more prefer the pull-out method (expert term is coitus interruptus), then you must know that there is a possibility of sexually transmitted diseases and that this is a method that should definitely be combined with avoiding the so-called risky days (ovulation days or the so-called fertile days, which is the middle part of a menstrual cycle). In this second case (avoiding fertile days); the assumption is that your girlfriend has mostly regular cycles because otherwise it is difficult to calculate when her fertile days are.