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Coitus interruptus, sometimes known as the withdrawal method, is a technique used by a man during sexual intercourse to try to reduce the chances of the woman getting pregnant. To avoid sperm entering the vagina the man withdraws before ejaculation. Although coitus interruptus is considered to be ineffective when it comes to birth control, it is still widely used by millions of couples worldwide. A problem with the method is that it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
There are references in literature to coitus interruptus that date to several thousand years ago. Historians have discovered that the Romans and Greeks commonly used contraception and it is hypothesized that some people during this time may have used the method. After the Roman Empire collapsed, however, contraception became relatively unimportant for several hundred years. It wasn’t until the 1700s that the method became popular gain, although it has declined in usage since the development of more advanced and reliable contraception techniques.
Although all contraception methods have a certain level of failure, the coitus interruptus method is far less reliable than comparable techniques. For example, the failure level over the course of a year for the method is above 20 percent while for the birth control pill it can be as low as 2 percent. The actual failure rate for couples who reliably and correctly use the method over the course of a single year is almost double that of condoms.
There are some advantages to the coitus interruptus method. For example, some people’s religion or beliefs may prevent the use of condoms and other forms of contraception. Using the pull-out method is also useful for women who have trouble using the pill for hormonal or other reasons. Some couples prefer to use the method over others for personal reasons.
The coitus interruptus method is ineffective at preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Due to its reduced effectiveness compared to other birth control methods it is also not cost effective even though it is free to use. Some couples may also find that the withdrawal method is unsatisfactory during intercourse. There is also some evidence that the method can cause problems such as erectile dysfunction if used regularly.
Worldwide it is estimated that between 2 percent and 3 percent of women use the withdrawal method as the primary method of birth control. This, however, varies greatly with region. For example, some parts of Asia have a usage rate of more than 15 percent.