You've been there, right? You and your partner are getting hot and heavy, but there's no condom to be found. You can't remember if you took your birth control that morning, but you really want to have sex right now. So your partner promises to pull out before ejaculating, eliminating all worry of a possible pregnancy. But in your head you're wondering, can you get pregnant if he pulls out?
The simple answer is, yes, you can still get pregnant if your partner pulls out.
When comparing methods of birth control, it can be tempting to bypass the scientific facts and rely on the easy, comfortable, less-invasive form of birth control, i.e. the pull out method. According to Planned Parenthood, more than 35 million couples worldwide rely on the pull out method as a pregnancy prevention method. However, the effectiveness of the method is debatable. Planned Parenthood noted that when you use the method correctly, it's 96 percent effective. But if you don't do it correctly, the effectiveness of the method plummets to just 73 percent.
Though there are some perks to the pull out method (hormone free, always available, doesn't cost a thing), Lauren F. Streicher, a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, told Greatist that the pulling out has such a high failure rate that it can't really be considered a viable method of contraception. “People do think of this as being contraception—but it’s not,” Streicher said.
Though the CDC estimates that 60 percent of women have relied on the pull out method as their primary form of contraception at least once, when you compare the effectiveness of pulling out to the pill, or the IUD — it seems crazy to rely on pulling out to prevent pregnancy.
According to Streicher, there are two reasons that the effectiveness of the pull out method is so low. One, is that men just don't pull out fast enough. On top of that, most men release a pre-ejaculate that often contains live sperm. “The idea that anyone can pull out fast enough to prevent a pregnancy is just not true, making withdrawal not an appropriate form of contraception,” Streicher said. Another thing to remember is that the pull out method gives you zero protection from sexually transmitted infections.
Planned Parenthood recommended the pull out method only for couples who have "great self-control, experience, and trust," stating that they're more apt to use the method correctly, preventing failure. The fact remains: you can definitely get pregnant if you're using the pull out method, especially if you're not doing it correctly. But if you're in a long-term committed relationship with someone who has epic self control, experience, and whom you trust? It just might work for you.