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When I have sex, I pull out before I ejaculate and nothing bad has ever happened. So, why do people always say pulling out is risky?

Withdrawal, or pulling out, is when a guy pulls his penis out of his partner before he ejaculates, so that no semen enters his partner’s body. If his partner is female and we’re talking about vaginal intercourse, if he is able to pull out without releasing any semen on or near the opening of the vagina, then withdrawal is pretty effective as a method of birth control. But, a girl can get pregnant even if a guy ejaculates just a little bit of semen near the vaginal opening or just inside of her vagina.

When used perfectly, withdrawal prevents pregnancy about 96 percent of the time. But that drops to a risky 73 percent with typical or “real world” use, because many guys don’t have enough control to pull out in time, especially when they’re so close to the pleasure of orgasm and ejaculation. Also, a recent study showed that some guys’ pre-cum contains sperm. Withdrawal is better than doing nothing, but there are many methods of birth control that are more effective.

Keep in mind that pregnancy isn’t the only concern here. Safer sex is not just about preventing unplanned pregnancy. It’s also about preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Even if a guy doesn’t ejaculate in his partner, STDs can be spread through pre-cum and vaginal and anal fluids, and in some cases (like herpes and HPV), through skin-to-skin contact.

Some people also practice withdrawal during anal sex, but the risk of spreading STDs is still very high for the reasons listed above. Condoms are a much safer choice to avoid STDs and pregnancy.

Find a clinic near you to get tested for pregnancy and/or STDs or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) to be connected to the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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