Coitus interruptus: a contraceptive method that is not 100% effective
Definition, what is coitus interruptus?
Interrupted coitus is a natural contraceptive method which consists of the man withdrawing from his partner’s vagina before ejaculation. “This technique, also called the withdrawal method, helps prevent possible fertilization.
Withdrawal method: its evolution and its place today
“At one time, coitus interruptus was rather the emergency method young couples who did not have condoms on hand”, explains the urologist. He adds: “Today, it has almost become the ‘common’ technique of certain couples in their thirties or more because more and more more women do not support or refuse to take contraception, arguing that the contraceptive burden must also rest on the gentleman. Result: the man having fewer contraceptive options available than the woman, apart from the condom and the vasectomy if we want to simplify, has no other choice but to opt for coitus interruptus, doing the best that ‘he can to retire in time.’
A common practice in Türkiye
For various cultural reasons, some countries, such as Turkey, have particularly high rates of coitus interruptus. According to figures published in the academic journal Journal of Sex Research, a quarter to a third of the couples surveyed reported having recently resorted to withdrawal before ejaculation. Moreover, the rates appear to have been stable since the 1990s (source 1).
What are the benefits of performing coitus interruptus?
“Coitus interruptus has the main advantage that it does not require any artifice, it is practical, free and easily available”, presents the urologist.
Dangers and consequences of coitus interruptus
One of the main criticisms of coitus interruptus is its certain lack of effectiveness. According to figures provided by the Robert Schuman Hospitals, failure rate would indeed be 22% (source 2). This is explained in particular by the difficulty in controlling ejaculation and by the presence of sperm present in the pre-ejaculatory liquid.
Pre-ejaculatory fluid: what are we talking about? Can you get pregnant if the man withdraws first?
Pre-ejaculatory fluid, also known as pre-seminal fluid, is a secretion emitted by the Mery-Cowper glands, located around the urethral canal, under the effect of sexual stimulation. The specialist specifies: “Theoretically not fertilizing, if there has been a recent ejaculation, sperm still present in the urethral canal can however be emitted in the preseminal fluid during a new report. Pregnancy is then possible especially in hyperfertile women, especially since it is sometimes difficult for the man to withdraw in time, depending on the sexual position.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that the percentage of women who have had a unwanted pregnancy using the coitus method during the first year of use varies from 4 to 27% depending on the attention paid to its practice (source 3). Antoine Faix completes: “The couple must be able to bear the fact that the woman can become pregnant and take into account what this may involve psychologically in the event of a possible morning after pill or abortion (voluntary termination of pregnancy).”
Binding method: “Many men complain of having to control themselves. Some even manage to have the fear of not succeeding in withdrawing from their partner’s vagina in time”, reports Antoine Faix of his experience of consultations. “It is not uncommon for some people to end up turning to vasectomy, a permanent contraceptive method, because they are tired of being careful!”
Frustration in both partners: “Orgasm is a form of total letting go where the body indulges and takes over the mind. Having to withdraw just before this moment can therefore be a bit contradictory for both partners.”
Moreover, this type of contraceptive practice does not prevent sexual transmission of bacteria and viruses contained in pre-ejaculatory fluid, such as in semen. “In the event of non-exclusive sexual intercourse, it is therefore important to always protect yourself by using condoms instead of relying on coitus interruptus”, advises Antoine Faix.
How do I know if this method is made for my couple?
Coitus interruptus is essentially aimed at the woman who trusts the man and at the man who manages to control his ejaculation phase. “It’s a method that requires a lot of caution and is therefore perhaps not compatible with all kinds of sexual positions, such as those that can accelerate orgasm,” continues the urologist.
Ultimately, the coitus interruptus method would rather be reserved for couples, already well accustomed to each other, and who accept the risk of a possible pregnancy.