Women's Health Matters

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Withdrawal means a man removes his penis from a woman's vagina before he ejaculates. This prevents most sperm from entering the vagina. It is not a very effective means of birth control. It has a failure rate of four to 27 per cent. Withdrawal does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.


  • costs nothing
  • always available; sex doesn't have to be planned in advance


  • not effective when used alone
  • some men cannot anticipate when they will ejaculate (this is particularly true for teens)
  • many men release seminal fluid and sperm before ejaculation
  • depends on the cooperation and commitment of your partner
  • does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
  • interrupts sex



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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital