A recent study published in the June issue of Contraception Magazine presents findings that the withdrawal method of birth control rivals the use of condoms.

Shocking, isn’t it? An entire magazine devoted to contraception! But actually I was referring to the fact that they’re telling us that a method that we’ve been told all our lives is not even officially a method of birth control is almost as good as condoms.

Condoms have a 98 per cent success rate when used properly and an 82 to 87 per cent failure rate (depending on who you talk to) when you factor in all the people who decide that the six-year-old condom in his wallet is still “fine” to use.

The study out of the Guttmacher Institute in New York said that the withdrawal method — that is, having the male partner pull out before he climaxes — is 96 per cent effective when used perfectly (however they determine that) and an 82 per cent success rate with more typical, obviously less perfect, use.

But before you lose the latex, it’s important to remember that the withdrawal method doesn’t provide any protection from sexually transmitted infections that can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate fluid.

And given the prevailing resistance to using condoms it hardly seems responsible to give people another excuse not to roll down the rim. So what advantage is there to a study like this?

Well, the truth of the matter is, say the researchers, a lot of people are using the withdrawal method (usually as a back up or along with another form of birth control) and denying this is silly.

Even Dr. Carol Carozza, VP of marketing for Ansell Healthcare (the makers of LifeStyles Condoms) and a 20-year veteran on contraception, says that when you see how many people seem to be defaulting to the withdrawal method, it’s clear that more research needs to be done and that users of it should be counselled properly.

People have been so stressed out into believing that withdrawal is irresponsible at worst or at best “better than nothing.”

Although withdrawal may not be as effective as some contraceptive methods, it is substantially more effective than nothing, said the study. It’s also convenient, requires no prior planning and it’s free.

Health care providers and health educators should discuss withdrawal as a legitimate, if slightly less effective contraceptive method in the same way they do condoms and diaphragms. Dismissing it as a legitimate contraceptive method when used in conjunction with hormonal, barrier or other methods is counterproductive and also discourages further research into this frequently used and reasonably effective method.

• To read the entire study, follow the link on my Sexcetera blog at metronews.ca.

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