Q&A: Pulling Out, Birth Control Pill, And Pregnancy Risk

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QUESTION: Is it possible for a girl to get pregnant if I pulled out and she was on the birth control pill?

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neon sign that says TAKE OUT

Photo: AMERICANVIRUS (flickr)

The withdrawal method is moderately effective as a means of reducing the risk of pregnancy. If a man is able to successfully pull out before ejaculating, then he is highly unlikely to get any sperm into his partner’s vagina.

Planning A Family

Nearly every day, we receive at least one question from men and women who are concerned about pregnancy risk.

After all, although most people want to be parents at some point, people have different feelings and thoughts about when they want to have children. Many people want to wait to have children until they are married, in a committed relationship or until they have completed their education or are financially stable.

And after people have started having children, they typically want to stop at some point, such as when they have the number of children they hoped to have. So, for various reasons, women and men often find themselves wanting to find effective forms of birth control – and to understand how birth control works so

You’re describing a situation in which a man and a woman are using two forms of birth control: the withdrawal method, which involves a man pulling his penis out of a woman’s vagina before he ejaculates, and the birth control pill, which involves a woman taking a hormonal birth control pill every day.

Withdrawal Method

The withdrawal method is moderately effective as a means of reducing the risk of pregnancy. If a man is able to successfully pull out before ejaculating, then he is highly unlikely to get any sperm into his partner’s vagina as pre-ejaculatory fluids don’t usually contain sperm.

However, if he doesn’t pull out in time, and he accidentally gets semen inside his partner’s vagina or very close to her vaginal entrance, then his partner could more easily become pregnant if they are not using any other forms of effective birth control.

Birth Control Pill

The birth control pill is considered a highly effective method of contraception as long as a woman takes the pill as prescribed. If she misses pills, for example, then the pill is less likely to work as intended.

Even if a woman takes her pills correctly, the pill’s effectiveness may be compromised if she experiences vomiting or diarrhea in a given month, as either of these may keep her body from properly absorbing all of the hormones in the pills.

Doubling Up On Protection

Using two methods of birth control – such as the withdrawal method and the birth control pill – is a particularly wise choice as neither method is perfect in preventing pregnancy, but used together, a couple’s chances of pregnancy are greatly reduced.

Neither method protects against sexually transmissible infections (STI), including HIV, so you will want to make sure that you have both been tested for STIs and HIV.

To learn more about contraception, visit Planned Parenthood and/or talk with your healthcare provider.

Next Question: I Bled During Fingering. Should I Be Concerned?

My boyfriend and I were messing around and it turned into fingering. Things got a little rough and all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain and he noticed blood. I’m sore and it burns a little to urinate. Should I be concerned?

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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