Nearly 60% of women aged 15-44 in the United States have used withdrawal for birth control at least once. In the past, clinicians counseled patients that withdrawal doesn’t work at all. Now that we know that withdrawal works nearly as well as condoms, we should discuss this method of contraception with patients.
Many couples use withdrawal alone or combined with another contraceptive method. Some people don’t consider withdrawal a “real” birth control method, and don’t discuss it unless clinicians ask about it specifically. Rather than overlooking withdrawal, clinicians should ask about its use and consider advance prescribing of emergency contraception so that couples have a back-up method available if withdrawal fails.
Some couples use withdrawal in order to avoid hormones. The copper IUD, a long-acting, highly effective form of contraception, is a great option for these women. It has no hormones and it works as emergency contraception!
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