real life

2/5 women are using this (pretty risky) method of contraception.






Since it first came on the market in 1960, the oral contraceptive pill has long been associated with female liberation – one small pill, one giant leap for womankind – but a new generation of women are refusing to swallow in favour of another less reliable method.

They’re downing the pill packets and pulling out instead. Well, the men are pulling out.

Yes, we’re talking the time-old withdrawal method.

If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties and started taking the pill around the time of your first sexual encounter then chances are you’ve been popping that 28-day packet on a daily basis for over a decade.

And if you’ve ever felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when it comes to washing down Yasmin or Brevinor you’ve probably wondered if there isn’t something better out there that isn’t as scary as tortuous-looking IUDs or injections or implanted hormone-releasing rods.

We all know someone who knows someone who had a bad experience or used to be lovely but morphed into a hormonal-raging monster after switching birth control methods. Besides, with the onus relying solely on the woman to not forget to take the pill every. Single. Day that giant baby burden sure is tiring once you hit double digits.


If all that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. An increasing amount of women, the latest US stats say two in five, and their partners are practising coitus interruptus.

Even though the withdrawal method has been used for at least two millennia, an article has coined the latest players in this contraceptive resurgence, the Pullout Generation.

Before you get your judgey mcjudge pants on, it may surprise you to know it’s a trend that belies class lines. It isn’t a phenomenon limited to the teen moms or the poorly educated, the condom-shy or the ‘should’ve known betters’ of this world; it’s smart, successful women dodging the baby-making bullet.

“They buy organic kale and all-natural cleaning products, and so can’t quite get down with taking synthetic hormones every day. They are more driven by sexual pleasure — they see orgasms as a right, not a privilege — and hate the feel of condoms. They wouldn’t call themselves porn aficionados or anything, but they don’t think it’s demeaning to have a man come on them,” writes Ann Friedman in NY Mag.

The women interviewed by Friedman were mostly in long-term monogamous relationships and used period-tracker apps to determine the days they were ovulating and then employed either condoms and/or the withdrawal method to avoid pregnancy.

Awkward sex, it’s a real problem you guys.

But a word of warning, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and no babies. Quizzing my friends on their pullout escapades one friend described how she and her first boyfriend, who were crazy mad into trying everything, decided to give the pullout method a whirl.


It was supposed to be all porny and he was supposed to sow his wild seeds on her ample bosom but he misfired, landing the money shot right in her eye.

In her eye.

Cue lots of unsexy eyeball-burning feelings, profuse apologies and conjunctivitis panic. The coitus was most definitely interruptus.

Oh, and also? You can get knocked up. You should know that according to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne (they would know) approximately 2 in 10 women get pregnant using the withdrawal method of contraception. They report that “perfect use of the withdrawal method is 96% effective and 78% effective with typical use.”

Not that getting pregnant is a much of a deterrent for one of the women interviewed in Friedman’s piece.

‘She concedes that the pullout method is risky, but, she continues, “For the longest time I used the pill and condoms because I was terrified of getting pregnant. The older I get, the less scared I am. I’ve had an abortion” — when she was on the pill, actually — “and it’s not the end of the world,”’ writes Friedman.

Tracy Moore on Jezebel has picked up on this concept as “pregnancy ambivalence,” where many couples are undecided if they want to have kids or not, and how it is often not part of the contraception dialogue.


In a perfect world, “we would all use birth control until the time was just right — and that time would be crystal clear — then we’d go off birth control, become instantly pregnant, and live happily ever after thanks to our unwavering insights into our future selves”.

Whoops! How did that happen?

Pregnancy ambivalence is something I can relate to, after being with my husband for a decade before getting married (and much to everyone’s surprise) we still didn’t have 2.4 kids on our immediate horizon after tying the knot.

We, of course, had the societal pressure that comes from being in a long-term relationship and selfishly not instantly producing offspring for the grandparents to admire yet we still weren’t sold on the idea. That’s not to say we didn’t want them, we just weren’t sure.

We’d seen too many of our friends join the baby train early, many of whom would pull us aside at barbecues and whisper in registers too low for their significant others to overhear, ‘Never, ever have children’ or ‘Kids change everything.’ It only added to a growing fear that we’d be turning our lives upside down for what we imagined would be a wild-eyed, never-sleeping, super-pooping monster.

Our now two-year-old daughter was all that and we love her anyway.

What contraception method do you use? Have you ever felt ambivalent about pregnancy?