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Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal)

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Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal, is a traditional family planning method in which the man completely removes his penis from the vagina, and away from the external genitalia of the female partner before he ejaculates. Coitus interruptus prevents sperm from entering the woman’s vagina, thereby preventing contact between spermatozoa and the ovum.

This method might be appropriate for couples

  • who are highly motivated and able to use this method effectively;
  • with religious or philosophical reasons for not using other methods of contraception;
  • who need contraception immediately and have entered into a sexual act without alternative methods available;
  • who need a temporary method while awaiting the start of another method; or
  • who have intercourse infrequently.

Some benefits of coitus interruptus are that the method, if used correctly, does not affect breastfeeding and is always available for primary use or use as a back-up method. In addition, coitus interruptus involves no economic cost or use of chemicals and has no directly associated health risks. Coitus interruptus does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and women using this method should be counseled that consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk for transmission of HIV and other STDs. Use of female condoms can provide protection from transmission of STDs, although data are limited.

Coitus interruptus is unforgiving of incorrect use, and its effectiveness depends on the willingness and ability of the couple to use withdrawal with every act of intercourse. Women with conditions that make pregnancy an unacceptable risk should be advised that coitus interruptus might not be appropriate for them because of its relatively higher typical-use failure rates.