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Birth control options: withdrawal

Withdrawal means a man removes his penis from a woman’s vagina before he ejaculates. This prevents most sperm from entering the vagina. It is not a very effective means of birth control. It has a failure rate of four to 27 per cent. Withdrawal does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.


  • costs nothing
  • always available; sex doesn’t have to be planned in advance


  • not effective when used alone
  • some men cannot anticipate when they will ejaculate (this is particularly true for teens)
  • many men release seminal fluid and sperm before ejaculation
  • depends on the cooperation and commitment of your partner
  • does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
  • interrupts sex

This information is provided by Women’s College Hospital and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: Oct. 29, 2014

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