Contraception Behavioral Methods Sexual Outercourse Withdrawal

Sexual outercourse and withdrawal (or “coitus interruptus”) are behavioral methods of birth control that don’t require medication or a prescription. Although these birth control methods are highly convenient, there are risks involved, even pregancy.

Sexual outercourse involves sex play without intercourse. Couples who use outercourse may also use the “withdrawal method,” which involves removing the penis before ejaculation occurs. As of 2008, the Family Planning Association reported that only about four percent of couples use withdrawal as a form of birth control.

What is Outercourse?

Sexual outercourse prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm away from the vagina. According to Planned Parenthood, when performing outercourse, pregnancy isn’t very common. This method of birth control is almost 100 percent effective when used correctly. However, if sperm comes in contact with the vagina during outercourse, pregnancy is possible.

Another benefit of sexual outercourse is the decreased risk of contracting HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If body fluids are transmitted through oral intercourse, however, there are higher chances of contracting an STD. It’s also important to remember that certain STDs, such as HPV and herpes, are passed through skin-to-skin contact. Consider using a latex barrier during sexual outercourse to minimize the chances of infection.

What is the Withdrawal Method?

Couples who don’t feel comfortable using traditional birth control methods–or don’t have access to other forms of birth control–can reduce their risk of pregnancy by using withdrawal method. On the upside, the coitus interruptus method doesn’t have medical or hormone-related side effects.

However, if your goal is to prevent pregnancy, withdrawal isn’t the most effective option. According to Planned Parenthood, people who use the withdrawal method have a 30 percent chance of pregnancy, which is much higher than other forms of birth control. Although doctors say using the coitus interruptus method is better than nothing at all, there are plenty of downsides, such as:

  • Coitus interruptus doesn’t protect against STDs
  • Sperm can be produced (pre-ejaculate) before a man fully ejaculates
  • Withdrawal can reduce the pleasure of sexual intercourse
  • Withdrawal may be too late (which may cause pregnancy).

Should I Use Outercourse or Coitus Interruptus?

It’s true that both sexual outercourse and the withdrawal method reduce the risk of pregnancy as compared to unprotected sex. However, they are some of the least effective forms of birth control. You may only want to consider these methods if you don’t have access to other contraceptives.

There’s a wide variety of contraceptive options available on the market today, so there’s likely one that fits your needs, concerns and budget. Hormonal methods (like the pill) are some of the most effective contraceptives, but they require a prescription, and can be expensive. If you need an affordable, over-the-counter contraceptive, you may wish to supplement with condoms or spermicide, along with the sexual outercourse and coitus interruptus methods.


Planned Parenthood Staff. (2010). Comparing effectiveness of birth control. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from the Planned Parenthood Web site:

Planned Parenthood Staff. (2010). Outercourse. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from the Planned Parenthood Web site:

Net Doctor Staff. (2010). Coitus interruptus. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from the Net Doctor Web site: