If you took sex ed at school, you probably heard that the pull-out method was an unreliable and risky form of contraception.
But according to New York Magazine, an increasing number of women are using it.
This week, Ann Friedman wrote a piece on the "pull-out generation" -- women who rely on the method as their primary form of contraception. Many of the women Friedman interviewed were in long-term monogamous relationships, and getting pregnant would not be, in one source's words, "the end of the world." These women track their ovulation cycles and plan their sex lives accordingly. Apparently they're not alone. Researchers at Duke University estimate that one-third of women between the ages of 15 and 24 have relied on the "withdrawal method."
In response to Friedman's piece, an anonymous writer shared her experiences using the method in a piece for the Frisky:
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I couldn’t enjoy sex with a condom, I still felt reluctant about taking the Pill and I heard at least five IUD horror stories from friends.
We asked our readers to share their experiences with the withdrawal method. Here are eight of their stories:
My fiancé and I have used the pull out method successfully since we started dating 3 years ago. I use a period tracker app (ptracker) and we just don't have sex when I'm supposed to be ovulating. Both of us are comfortable in our relationship and if something DOES happen, then that's ok.
Granted, my fiancé pulls out like 10 seconds prior to coming, but it doesn't hurt the mood and I don't have to deal with all the crazy scary side effects of taking birth control for most of my life. I started on [birth control] when I was 15 and decided about 4 years ago (when I was single) to take myself off. I didn't like the idea of having all these crazy hormones in my system!
-- Age 32, Chicago, IL
For years I used the rhythm and pull out method. I didn't want to be on birth control and my husband didn't want to wear a condom. It worked most if the time. Only once out of countless times did I get pregnant.
-- Age 45, Springfield, MO
When it comes to satisfaction in our sex life, I couldn't be happier. I love that my body is allowed to do what it does naturally, and that I don't have to suffer through uncomfortable side effects. And since marriage is on the horizon for us, and we both agree that we want children, when we decide to be risky and use the pullout method in or near my fertile window, there's far less stress. This may also be because he's had the practice of being able to time his actions, but I do think a lot of it has to do with knowing exactly how "risky" we're being (5 days before ovulation? We'll be okay. Day of ovulation? Maybe we should use a condom). I don't know to what extent other women use the pullout method in conjunction with condoms as opposed to using solely the pullout method (with or without cycle tracking), but I actually feel a stronger bond with my partner because that trust has to be there. I have to trust him to pull out in time (or stop midway through to put on a condom), and he has to trust me to be honest about where I am in my cycle. It's a two-way street, and the fact that we have that trust I think shows the strength of our relationship (because the communication HAS to be there, and is present in other aspects of our relationship).
-- Age 26, Manassas, VA
I was a teenager when I used the pull-out method as a form of contraception, more than once or twice, with the father of my birth son, who is now 25 years old. On the topic of the pull-out method, it doesn't work! My boyfriend at the time didn't wear condoms and I wasn't on any form of birth control. Bad combo for not getting pregnant. Risky.
-- Age 45, Fayetteville, AR
I've definitely relied on the pull out method! Just ask my two year old son!
-- Age unknown, Queens, NY
I'm SO glad someone is talking about this! I relied on the withdrawal "method" of birth control at the young age of 17, not having been put on birth control for lack of having a gynecologist. I made an initial appointment when I turned 18 but every time the appointment date came around I had my period so would have to reschedule. Not being on birth control it was hard to predict when I would and wouldn't have it. Anyway, after two years of using this method, I got pregnant. I knew back then how naive I was to think it wouldn't happen. And after having gone through that experience, not only have I never gone off the pill, but it also infuriates me how dumb some of my friends are that haven't learned from what happened to me. It's pure and utter foolishness. It shouldn't even be called a birth control method because it's not. At all.
-- Age 35, Boston
Everyone does this. I've had two serious relationships and both of them, this was the expected method of contraception. It's almost an expectation when having sex on both parties that you have to do that. It feels so much riskier when you don't pull-out. Why have I done it? It feels better than using a condom. A lot of times girls are using both methods, the pill and pull-out because we've been horrified from scary stories of unwanted pregnancies, and if you KNOW you aren't ready for a child, two methods are always safer. Also girls use this method because it is just kind of what everyone does. You don't even have to tell the guy -- or at least I haven't ever had to, that it's not okay to go inside me. Guys even pull-out when they use a condom.
I have plenty of friends not on the pill who use pulling-out as their only go-to when they have sex with a trusted partner (trusted meaning, they trust they don't have STD's). When I really think about it, it sounds kind of dumb to rely on this method alone, but then you get into the whole issue with birth control and what it does to your hormones, and you consider the horror stories of IUD's and diaphrams it kind of, sort of makes sense.
-- Age 25, TX
My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years. We have a six-year-old. After relying on the pill for years starting in college up to my early 30's, I went off the Pill to have my child. After the birth of my child, I didn't feel like getting back on the pill primarily because I was already so overwhelmed with being a parent that I worried about remembering to take the pill on time every day and also, I didn't want to gain the weight that I gained when I first went on the pill. Considering as new parents that sex wasn't happening very often, I didn't really worry about it and we relied solely on the pullout method. It worked successfully! That is, until I found out I was pregnant last June. Now, almost 40, this was a HUGE surprise for us but considering we were using the very unreliable pullout method, it shouldn't have been such a shock! Of course, being married and having two incomes, helped us calm down and quickly realize what a gift this surprise really is.
-- Age 39, Los Angeles, CA
What do you think about relying on the withdrawal method as your primary form of contraception? Comment below, or join the conversation on Twitter @HuffPostWomen.
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