First, let’s talk about “pulling out” as a method of birth control. Pulling out, also known as “withdrawal” means that a male partner pulls his penis out of his female partner’s vagina before ejaculating (cumming). Often pulling out is described as “better than nothing”. This is true, but I would not recommend this alone as a reliable means of birth control. There are a few problems with this method. One problem is that any time sperm enters a female’s reproductive tract, there is a chance for pregnancy. Pre-cum does not contain as much sperm as cum itself, but it still can contain some. And all it takes is one sperm to meet one egg on the right day for fertilization to occur. There are different estimates of pregnancy chances with withdrawal as birth control. One figure that I believe is fairly accurate is that in a year of 100 couples using only pulling out as birth control, 25 will become pregnant. That is 1 in 4. More on sperm, eggs and pregnancy can be found HERE.
Now, about condoms. Condoms are definitely important to prevent sexually transmitted infections. In fact barrier methods (condoms, dental dams and anything that blocks direct skin to skin contact) is the best thing we have to prevent passing infections back and forth between 2 sexually active partners. Condoms, too, can be useful for birth control. They are not one of the most reliable methods, however, especially when used by young people. This is not because young people are dumb, but rather young people often do not know how to use condoms properly and are less experienced than more mature couples. Typically, in teens condoms can fail to prevent pregnancy in about 1 in 7 teens using condoms alone for birth control for a year.
Here’re a few things about condoms:
- A new condom for each sex act
- You need lubricant with them (you know – good old KY®). Why? Friction during sex without enough moisture will make that condom rip. And a ripped condom lets sperm and germs get into your partner.
- For more on how to actually use a condom, click HERE
So, what if you combine withdrawal and condom use? That definitely will have better effectiveness for birth control than either method alone. But there are so many better and more convenient options for birth control available for young people, that I encourage every young person in an intimate (sexual) relationship to explore these options with their doctor or school nurse or other trusted medical professional. HERE is a great link where you can explore different birth control options. Many states in the US have laws enabling teens and minors to get reproductive and sexual health care without adult consent. I am not encouraging teens to make these decisions without the advice of adults, but I do know that for many teens, talking about birth control and sex with parents is simply not an option. Getting the health care you need to protect yourself and to prevent unwanted illness or pregnancy is an important part of becoming a sexually active person. If you live in the US, you can see what your state’s laws say about minors (less than legal age of adulthood) and accessing sexual health care without parental consent HERE.
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