Coitus interruptus

Coitus interruptus
Coitus interruptus
Birth control type Behavioral
First use Ancient
Failure rates (first year)
Perfect use 4%
Typical use 15-28%
Reversibility Yes
User reminders Dependent upon self-control. Urinating between acts of sexual intercourse helps clear sperm from urethra.
Clinic review None
Advantages and disadvantages
STD protection No

Coitus interruptus, also known as the withdrawal or pull-out method, is a method of birth-control in which a man, during intercourse withdraws his penis from a woman's vagina prior to ejaculation. The man then directs his ejaculate (semen) away from his partner's vagina in an effort to avoid insemination.

This method of contraception, widely used for at least two millennia, is still in use today. This method was used by an estimated thirty-eight million couples worldwide in 1991.[1] Coitus interruptus does not protect against STDs or STIs and is viewed by medical professionals to be an ineffective method of birth control.[2]



Perhaps the oldest documentation of the use of the withdrawal method to avoid pregnancy is the story of Onan in the Torah. This text is believed to have been written down over 2,500 years ago.[3] Societies in the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome preferred small families and are known to have practiced a variety of birth control methods.[4]:12,16-17 There are references that have led historians to believe withdrawal was sometimes used as birth control.[5] However, these societies viewed birth control as a woman's responsibility, and the only well-documented contraception methods were female-controlled devices (both possibly effective, such as pessaries, and ineffective, such as amulets).[4]:17,23

After the decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, contraceptive practices fell out of use in Europe; the use of contraceptive pessaries, for example, is not documented again until the 15th century. If withdrawal were used during the Roman Empire, knowledge of the practice may have been lost during its decline.[4]:33,42

From the 18th century until the development of modern methods, withdrawal was one of the most popular methods of birth-control in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.[5]


Like many methods of birth control, reliable effect is achieved only by correct and consistent use. Observed failure rates of withdrawal vary depending on the population being studied: studies have found actual failure rates of 15–28% per year.[6] In comparison, the pill has an actual use failure rate of 2–8%,[7] while the intrauterine device (IUD) has an actual use failure rate of 0.8%.[8] The condom has an actual use failure rate of 10–18%.[6] However some authors suggest that actual effectiveness of withdrawal could be similar to effectiveness of condoms, and this area needs further research.[9] (see Comparison of birth control methods)

For couples that use coitus interruptus correctly at every act of intercourse, the failure rate is 4% per year. In comparison the pill has a perfect-use failure rate of 0.3%, and the I.U.D. has a perfect-use failure rate of 0.6%. The condom has a perfect-use failure rate of 2%.[8]

It has been suggested that the pre-ejaculate ("Cowper's fluid") emitted by the penis prior to ejaculation normally contains spermatozoa (sperm cells), which would compromise the effectiveness of the method.[10][11] However, several small studies[12][13][14][15] have failed to find any viable sperm in the fluid. While no large conclusive studies have been done, it is now believed the primary cause of method (correct-use) failure is the pre-ejaculate fluid picking up sperm from a previous ejaculation.[16] For this reason, it is recommended that the male partner urinate between ejaculations, to clear the urethra of sperm, and wash any ejaculate from objects that might come near the woman's vulva (e.g. hands and penis).[17]


The advantage of coitus interruptus is that it can be used by people who have objections to or do not have access to other forms of contraception. Some men prefer it so they can avoid possible adverse effects of hormonal contraceptives on their partners.[18] Some women also prefer this method over hormonal contraception to avoid adverse effects such as depression, mood swings, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, weight gain, and headaches, among others. It has no direct monetary cost, requires no artificial devices, has no physical side effects, can be practiced without a prescription or medical consultation, and provides no barriers to stimulation.


Compared to the other common reversible methods of contraception such as IUDs, hormonal contraceptives and male condoms, coitus interruptus is less effective at preventing pregnancy.[8] As a result, it is also less cost-effective than many more effective methods: although the method itself has no direct cost, users have a greater chance of incurring the risks and expenses of either pregnancy and child-birth or abortion. Only models that assume all couples practice perfect use of the method find cost savings associated with the choice of withdrawal as a birth control method.[19]

The method is largely ineffective in the prevention of STDs, like HIV, since pre-ejaculate may carry viral particles or bacteria which may infect the partner if this fluid comes in contact with mucous membranes. However, a reduction in the volume of bodily fluids exchanged during intercourse may reduce the likelihood of disease transmission compared to using no method due to the smaller number of pathogens present.[14]

The method may be difficult for some couples to use. The interruption of intercourse may leave some couples sexually frustrated or dissatisfied.[20]

Masters and Johnson considered withdrawal as a means to developing sexual problems, e.g. premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.[21]


Worldwide, 3% of women of childbearing age rely on withdrawal as their primary method of contraception. Regional popularity of the method varies widely, from a low of 1% on the African continent to 16% in Western Asia. (Data from surveys during the late 1990s).[22]

In the United States, studies have indicated 56% of women of reproductive age have had a partner use withdrawal. By 2002, only 2.5% were using withdrawal as their primary method of contraception.[23]

A leading exponent of withdrawal in the mid-nineteenth century was a religious based "utopian commune" called the Oneida community in New York. To minimize the incidence of pregnancy, teenage males were not permitted to engage in sexual intercourse except with postmenopausal women until such time as they mastered the withdrawal technique.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Rogow D, Horowitz S (1995). "Withdrawal: a review of the literature and an agenda for research". Studies in family planning 26 (3): 140–53. doi:10.2307/2137833. JSTOR 2137833. PMID 7570764. , which cites:
    Population Action International (1991). "A Guide to Methods of Birth Control." Briefing Paper No. 25, Washington, D. C.
  2. ^ Creatsas G (1993). "Sexuality: sexual activity and contraception during adolescence". Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol 5 (6): 774–83. PMID 8286689. 
  3. ^ Adams, Cecil (2002-01-07). "Who wrote the Bible? (Part 1)". The Straight Dope. Creative Loafing Media, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  4. ^ a b c Collier, Aine (2007). The Humble Little Condom: A History. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-556-6. 
  5. ^ a b Bullough, Vern L. (2001). Encyclopedia of birth control. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp. 74–75. ISBN 1-57607-181-2. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  6. ^ a b Kippley, John; Sheila Kippley (1996). The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th addition ed.). Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League. pp. 146. ISBN 0-926412-13-2. , which cites:
    Guttmacher Institute (1992). "Choice of Contraceptives". The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics 34 (885): 111–114. PMID 1448019. 
    Hatcher, RA; Trussel J, Stewart F, et al. (1994). Contraceptive Technology (Sixteenth Revised ed.). New York: Irvington Publishers. ISBN 0-8290-3171-5. 
  7. ^ Audet MC, Moreau M, Koltun WD, Waldbaum AS, Shangold G, Fisher AC, Creasy GW (2001). "Evaluation of contraceptive efficacy and cycle control of a transdermal contraceptive patch vs an oral contraceptive: a randomized controlled trial" (Slides of comparative efficacy]). JAMA 285 (18): 2347–54. doi:10.1001/jama.285.18.2347. PMID 11343482. 
    Guttmacher Institute. "Contraceptive Use". Facts in Brief. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved 2005-05-10.  - see table First-Year Contraceptive Failure Rates
  8. ^ a b c Hatcher, RA; Trussel J, Stewart F, et al. (2000). Contraceptive Technology (18th ed.). New York: Ardent Media. ISBN 0-9664902-6-6. 
  9. ^ Jones RK, Fennell J, Higgins JA, Blanchard K (June 2009). "Better than nothing or savvy risk-reduction practice? The importance of withdrawal" (PDF). Contraception 79 (6): 407–10. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2008.12.008. PMID 19442773. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  10. ^ Harms, Roger W. (2007-09-20). "Can pre-ejaculation fluid cause pregnancy?". Women's health: Expert answers. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  11. ^ Cornforth, Tracee (2003-12-02). "How effective is withdrawal as a birth control method?". Women's Health. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  12. ^ Zukerman, Z.; Weiss, DB; Orvieto, R (April 2003). "Short Communication: Does Preejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper's Gland Contain Sperm?". Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 20 (4): 157–159. doi:10.1023/A:1022933320700. PMID 12762415. 
  13. ^ Free M, Alexander N (1976). "Male contraception without prescription. A reevaluation of the condom and coitus interruptus". Public Health Rep 91 (5): 437–45. PMC 1440560. PMID 824668. 
  14. ^ a b "Researchers find no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid". Contraceptive Technology Update 14 (10): 154–156. October 1993. PMID 12286905. 
  15. ^ Clark, S. (Sep 1981). "An examination of the sperm content of human pre-ejaculatory fluid". [Unpublished]. 
  16. ^ "Withdrawal Method". Planned Parenthood. March 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  17. ^ Delvin, David (2005-01-17). "Coitus interruptus (Withdrawal method)". Retrieved 2006-07-13. 
  18. ^ Ortayli, N; Bulut, A; Ozugurlu, M; Cokar, M (2005). "Why Withdrawal? Why not withdrawal? Men's perspectives". Reproductive Health Matters 25 (13): 164–73. doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(05)25175-3. PMID 16035610. 
  19. ^ James Trusell; Leveque, JA; Koenig, JD; London, R; Borden, S; Henneberry, J; Laguardia, KD; Stewart, F et al. (April 1995). "The economic value of contraception: a comparison of 15 methods". American Journal of Public Health 85 (4): 494–503. doi:10.2105/AJPH.85.4.494. PMC 1615115. PMID 7702112. 
  20. ^ "Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal)". Abstinence & Natural Birth Control Methods. Sexually Transmitted Disease Resource. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-05. 
  21. ^ Masters, W.H., & Johnson, V.E. (1970). Human sexual inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 
  22. ^ (PDF) Family Planning Worldwide: 2002 Data Sheet. Population Reference Bureau. 2002. Retrieved 2006-09-14. 
  23. ^ Chandra, A; Martinez, GM; Mosher, WD; Abma, JC; Jones, J (2005). "Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth" (PDF). Vital Health Stat (National Center for Health Statistics) 23 (25). Retrieved 2007-05-20.  See Tables 53 and 56.

Further reading

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • coitus interruptus — m. sex. Del latín, significa coito interrumpido. Método anticonceptivo que consiste en retirar el pene de la vagina antes de la eyaculación. El grado de fiabilidad es bajo, puesto que durante la excitación se libera involuntariamente líquido… …   Diccionario médico

  • Coitus interruptus — (lat.) m. Práctica *anticonceptiva consistente en la interrupción de la cópula en el momento de la eyaculación. * * * coitus interruptus. (Loc. lat.; literalmente, coito interrumpido ). m. Método anticonceptivo que consiste en la interrupción del …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • coitus interruptus — Loc. lat. que significa literalmente ‘coito interrumpido’. Se usa, como locución nominal masculina, para designar el método anticonceptivo que consiste en interrumpir el coito antes de la eyaculación: «Freud interpretó la angustia como una… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • coitus interruptus — (n.) 1900, first attested in Havelock Ellis …   Etymology dictionary

  • coitus interruptus — (izg. kȍitus interùptus) DEFINICIJA prekid spolnog odnošaja pred ejakulacijom ETIMOLOGIJA lat …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • coitus interruptus — (Loc. lat.); literalmente, coito interrumpido ). m. Método anticonceptivo que consiste en la interrupción del coito antes de que culmine …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • coitus interruptus — ► NOUN ▪ sexual intercourse in which the penis is withdrawn before ejaculation …   English terms dictionary

  • coitus interruptus — [kō′it əs in΄tə rup′təs] n. [L] withdrawal of the penis in sexual intercourse before ejaculation to avoid deposit of semen in the vagina …   English World dictionary

  • Coitus interruptus — Der Coitus interruptus (lat. coitus „Geschlechtsverkehr“ und interruptus „unterbrochen“) Abk. CI ist eine veraltete, aber besonders für ungeübte sehr unsichere Methode der natürlichen Empfängnisverhütung, bei dem der Geschlechtsverkehr so… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Coitus interruptus — Aufpassen (umgangssprachlich) * * * Co|i|tus in|ter|rụp|tus, der; , […tu:s] …ti [mlat. interruptus = unterbrochen]: Geschlechtsverkehr, bei dem der Penis vor dem Samenerguss aus der Scheide herausgezogen wird. * * * Coitus interruptus,  … …   Universal-Lexikon

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