What is withdrawal?

The man removes his penis from the vagina before he comes so that ejaculation takes place outside the vagina. Usually, no other protection methods are used with the withdrawal method. Experience and practice helps men develop the skill to use this method effectively.

How effective is it as a contraceptive?

  • Withdrawal is 73% (typical use) - 96% (perfect use) effective.

How effective is it at preventing STIs?

  • There is a greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because there is no protection (barriers) between partners and body fluids.


  • Withdrawal is free and always available
  • No clinic visits necessary
  • No equipment or supplies needed
  • No side effects
  • Method does not rely on woman using contraception
  • Method can be used with other methods of contraception


  • May be difficult for some men to know when they need to withdraw before the point of ejaculation
  • There may be increased anxiety for both partners around withdrawing in time. This worry may decrease their enjoyment of sex.
  • Poor to no protection against sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS
  • Sperm may be present in the clear fluid that comes out of the penis before ejaculation; so pregnancy might still be possible.
  • How to use the withdrawal method

  1. The man must rely on his own sensations to determine when he is about to ejaculate.
  2. He must then withdraw his penis prior to ejaculation and move away from the female genitalia.
  3. If another act of intercourse takes place, the man must urinate and wipe off the tip of his penis to remove any sperm remaining from the previous ejaculation.


Revised March 2009