Sunday, May 31, 2009

Giving Withdrawal Its Due

Those of you who have studied with me know that I consider withdrawal "legit" as a method of birth control, especially when used in conjunction with another method. Well a new article in the June 2009 issue of Contraception makes the same case. Unless you enjoy reading science journal articles, I suggest that you skip to the summary published on the Guttmacher website. (If you want to read the original article, you'll find a link there.) The article basically says that withdrawal has a perfect use rate of 96%, and a typical use rate of 82% (vs 98% & 83% for the male condom), making it a perfectly reasonable and cost-effective choice for couples not in need of STD protection, or as a back up to another method of birth control (such as Fertility Awareness! OK, Fertility Awareness is not actually mentioned in the article.) The article also examines why withdrawal is not perceived as a viable choice for contraception, and the consequences of that misperception.


Melissa King said...

Very assuring and nice to "hear"! Thanks for sharing this. My biggest concern about this method was pre-ejaculate fluid. I know that many scientists believe that there is no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid, but since there is such a debate among scientists over it, I have always had enough worry to be cautious about it.

I have never truly understood how the presence of sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid could be in question. Seems like a pretty basic research project to me, considering what science is able to do in this modern age. Am I missing something here?

For some reason, I never noticed that the "perfect use" rates for prevention of pregnancy were so close to that of a condom. Pretty cool news.

Thanks again for posting!


Fertility Awareness Center said...

Thanks for your comment! You're not missing anything. It's a ridiculously simple study that should have been done a dozen times by now, and frankly I've long been baffled as to why it hasn't been. A professional group to which I belong had a discussion about this a while back. The group includes researchers, doctors, educators, etc, and there are over 200 of us. No one could come up with a good, definitive study. As I recall, the closest one was a study that had been looking for the presence of HIV in pre-ejaculate, and they noted few or no sperm. But it was a tiny study, and the findings were kind of an aside. I think the theory is that sperm in pre-ejaculate are left over from a prior ejaculation, and thus not very hardy. Looking at it from an evidence point of view, we see a very low failure rate, so obviously if there are any sperm in there, they're not in good shape. But why in heaven's name can't someone just do a decent study about this?!