Please note: This archive was last updated in 2005.

RHO archives : Topics : Contraceptive Methods



Male withdrawal, also called coitus interruptus, requires a man to withdraw his penis from his partner's vagina prior to ejaculation. Withdrawal has been used as a contraceptive for centuries and can be effective in preventing pregnancy when clients are motivated and able to practice it correctly and consistently with every act of intercourse—that is, with perfect use. No medical condition restricts a client's eligibility for use of withdrawal. It does not affect breastfeeding, has no hormonal side effects, and can be used as a backup to other methods.

For more information on withdrawal, please see the Annotated Bibliography and Links pages.

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Characteristics of withdrawal


4% to 19% failure rate during first year of typical use; 4% failure rate with perfect use in the first year.

Age limitations

No restrictions.

Parity limitations

No restrictions.

Mode of action

Prevents sperm from entering the vagina.

Effect on STI risk

Not protective (not known).

Drug interaction


Duration of use

Most clients can use withdrawal safely throughout their reproductive years (if they are satisfied with the method and have no problems with it).

Return to fertility

Immediately upon discontinuation.

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