Condoms are one of the most incredible inventions we have, and without them we would be living in a very different world. They’re widely available and they allow billions of people around the world to have sex without the fear that it will lead to pregnancy or that they will contract an STD.
However, it seems that many men have a complicated relationship with condoms. Without condoms, it’s likely they would be having nowhere near as much sex, but on the flipside, a lot of men feel that sex with condoms is a lot less pleasurable.
Some men are so put off by the idea of using a condom that they are now using the withdrawal or “pulling out” method as a replacement. The method involves the male pulling out of the vagina just before he climaxes so that he can avoid impregnating the woman he is having sex with.
However, experts maintain that the chance of impregnation is still reasonably high.
In fact, Natika Halil, chief executive of FPA, maintains that,
“Some couples might choose to rely on withdrawal but this can be notoriously difficult to get right so your risk of pregnancy is quite high. Because it can be so hard to use withdrawal correctly and consistently, we don’t consider it reliable enough to count as a method of contraception and recommend instead choosing one of the 15 contraceptive methods available. The only way for it to be more reliable is to do it correctly and consistently every time, but this can be hard for many people to achieve.”
The withdrawal method may slightly reduce the chance of a pregnancy occurring, however, it in no way reduces the risk of contracting an STD.
In order for the withdrawal method to work, the man needs to have excellent self-control which can be difficult in the middle of a heated sexual encounter.
However, recently there has been a surge in the number of young men who are using the withdrawal method. Now, I can remember being taught in sex education that withdrawing definitely does not prevent pregnancy – and that was in 2005! So it has to be asked whether or not the lack of education is the problem here.
It has been estimated that the number of couples who rely on the risky method has doubled from around 10 per cent in 2002 to 19 per cent in 2015.
Halil has an interesting theory as to why some couples might opt for the withdrawal method:
“It may often be used in relationships where couples may be more relaxed about whether or not they get pregnant. A bad experience on another type of contraception, or concerns about side effects, can also contribute to people deciding to try withdrawal.”
The withdrawal method usually doesn’t work because many men who attempt it don’t pull out quickly enough. But there’s some even more bad news: even if a guy thinks he has pulled out in time, there’s still a considerable risk that he will impregnate his sexual partner.
And that’s because there is a fairly high chance that the male’s pre-ejaculate will contain live sperm perfectly capable of fertilizing the female’s egg!
“Sperm is mobile,” says Raegan McDonald-Mosley MD, MPH and chief medical officer at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Speaking to Men’s Health, McDonald-Mosley revealed the sex facts anybody having sex should already know; “It swims around. Even if a little bit of semen gets near the woman’s vulva, it can swim into the vagina and increase the risk of pregnancy.”
Why anyone would opt for the withdrawal method considering how risky it is? Not only does it expose both parties to disease, but the risk of pregnancy still remains a very real one. As of now, condoms are the most effective method of both preventing pregnancy and the spreading of STDs and until we find a better alternative, we should probably try to make do with what we’ve got.