Birth control: Gynaecologist caution against withdrawal method


*Says, it's unreliable, has high failure rate

By Francesca Iwambe,

An Associate and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku/Ozalla, Enugu State, Dr. Uche Agu, has cautioned against depending on the withdrawal method for birth control, noting that it is unreliable for preventing pregnancy.

According to the maternal health expert, the withdrawal method also known as pullout is ineffective and has a very high failure rate

He cautioned that couples should not depend on it for family planning.

Dr. Agu said while the method works for some people, it is, however, flawed by inconsistencies and failures.

According to an article published online by Mayo Clinic – a medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research, the goal of the withdrawal method is to keep sperm from entering the vagina.

The article, however, noted that one in five couples who use the withdrawal method for one year will get pregnant, adding that the withdrawal method isn't as effective at preventing pregnancy as other forms of birth control.

Speaking further, Dr. Agu stressed that a lot of men lose control at the point of orgasm and ejaculate inside the vagina before pulling out, stressing that even those that have some level of control may have emitted some sperm cells in the initial secretions before they pull out.

The gynaecologist explained, “Withdrawal method is a traditional family planning method that people use when they don't want to utilise the standard methods like the use of artificial methods by using a condom, injectables, women using intrauterine devices, and implants.

“In the use of the withdrawal method, the feels like he is so confident in himself that he can pull out when he wants to reach an orgasm. Well, it is not really very effective because, at the climax of the feelings, the man can forget himself and ejaculates the semen inside the vagina before he pulls out. That is very common.

“Even the first secretion from the urethra – the first semen that comes out carries sperm cells. So, those secretions that come out early first have been proven to contain some sperm cells. Also, when one is trying to pull out when he has the urge where he has the orgasm, the initial slimy secretions that he is emitting before orgasm can carry sperm cells which can cause pregnancy.

“The withdrawal is not an effective method. Though some people are very good at using it, it only works for some people. The method is not very effective because it is flawed by inconsistencies and failures. It has a high failure rate.”

According to 2020 data from the World Health Organisation's website, even when used perfectly every time, four per cent of people using the pull-out method will become pregnant.

This is almost similar to condoms, which have a two per cent chance of pregnancy when used perfectly.
According to the WHO, methods of contraception include oral contraceptive pills, implants, injectables, patches, vaginal rings.

The use of contraception, the global health body noted, advances the human right of people to determine the number and spacing of their .

Dr. Agu further affirmed that the use of the withdrawal method requires discipline and caution, especially on the part of the men.

“Using withdrawal family planning method involves a lot of discipline and commitment because in some people, at that point of orgasm, they lose control and ejaculate inside the vagina. That is the truth.

Even those that have a level of control may have emitted some sperm cells in the initial secretions before they pull out.

“So, that is why it fails. It is on the part of the man. Some of the secretions that come early before the real ejaculation contains sperm cells”, he reiterated.


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