I'm talking about withdrawal, or the "pulling out" method, where the only things protecting against pregnancy are the guy's sense of timing and the girl's knowledge of her biological calendar. Teenagers are often pinpointed as the primary demographic that uses this method, which may explain why adults are embarrassed to admit they do it.
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reported by The Huffington Post, 60 percent of sexually active teens admitted to having used the pulling-out method at least once. Along with that statistic, it's important to note that the use of emergency contraception (like Plan B) among teens rose from 8 percent to 22 percent between 2002 and 2013. While that may have something to do with it being more readily available, such an exponential increase must be at least in part influenced by more risky sexual behavior.
However, despite the bad rap it's gotten — because its use seems to come out of inexperience, laziness and/or lack of alternative methods — it's actually more effective than you might think. According to a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, condoms are only 2 percent more effective at preventing pregnancy than withdrawal is, and that's only if both methods are executed perfectly. When utilized in a more relaxed, typical manner, the failure rate of both jumps up significantly and gets mighty close. The study's lead author Rachel K. Jones told Mic, "With typical use for condoms, the failure rate is 17% percent, and with withdrawal it's 18%."
Anyone else starting to rethink relying solely on condoms during sex?
It's not terribly surprising that many people practice the withdrawal method far into adulthood. Although, the statistics on exactly how many aren't terribly precise because adults are less likely to admit it. This is probably due to the fact that it's often viewed as a last-resort method and therefore makes one seem reckless and irresponsible. In fact, according to Mic, many don't even consider pulling-out a birth control method, just as a last resort.
The ironic thing is that a large percentage of my responsible, 30-something friends in relationships admit to having done it either as their only form of birth control or in conjunction with the pill or an IUD. The consensus was that it's often easier, and if you trust your partner and feel confident doing it, it's perfectly effective. That said, none of my friends wished to be named for this article. It's unfortunate, really, because as long as you're comfortable with it, there should be no shame in pulling out if it works for you and your partner.
If we can be more open with one another about our sexual health, our children will be better informed about sex, feel less fear about getting advice and asking questions and will ultimately be safer. While pulling out is certainly not the safest method of birth control, it needs to be acknowledged as one that teens use, and as such, one they should learn how to do properly to prevent unwanted pregnancies. With less shame surrounding the issue, a more useful discussion can be had about it, one that reinforces using condoms to prevent STDs.
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