One-third of young women still use withdrawal

August 13, 2013

One-third of women aged 15 to 24 years use withdrawal (coitus interruptus) as a means of birth control, even though it clearly doesn’t work as well as other methods, a new study finds.

 

One-third of women aged 15 to 24 years still use withdrawal (coitus interruptus) as a means of birth control, even though it clearly doesn’t work as well as other methods, a new study finds.

Researchers found that of the young women who used withdrawal at least once, 21% became pregnant unintentionally versus 13% of young women who used other forms of contraception. Withdrawal users were also 7.5% more likely to have used emergency contraception than users of other birth control methods.

The investigators, from the University of California, analyzed data from the 2006 to 2008 National Survey of Family Growth on 2,220 women to determine just how common withdrawal is among today’s young female population. They found that 31% of females in the cohort used the method at least occasionally.

The researchers suggest that health care practitioners talk more openly and honestly with their patients about the availability of emergency contraception. They say that anyone who experiences a failure with any method of birth control should be offered an emergency alternative like Plan B or Next Choice. They add that the most effective contraception for this age group is a long-acting reversible one, such as an intrauterine device or a subdermal insert, but that these can be difficult and expensive for young women to access.

They say the reason that withdrawal is a poor choice for many of these women is because success with the method requires that couples communicate well with each other and that they are each in tune with their bodies. Females must know their menstrual cycles and when they are most fertile, and men must be in tune with when they are about to ejaculate and be willing to pull out of their partner before they do. They say that relatively few women in the study age group are in mature, long-term relationships that support this kind of trust and communication.

The Office on Women’s Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services provides fact sheets that discuss contraception, birth control methods, and emergency contraception for health professionals and their patients.

 

 

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