For those of you who are bad at remembering dates, here’s a reminder: Father’s Day is this Sunday. 

Now, I love my dad, and I’m more than happy to have a day dedicated to him. But I’m not interested in having any more fathers in my life — which is why birth control is so important to me because I don’t want to make fathers out of any of my partners.

However, birth control can be expensive and inconvenient if it requires a prescription. And despite some great side effects of hormonal birth control — hello, clear skin and bigger breasts — it could interfere with health issues.

On the bright side, there’s a contraceptive method that’s free, convenient and, as far as preventing pregnancy goes, about as effective as condoms.

If your high school sexual education was anything like mine, your freshman biology teacher probably told you never to just “pull and pray.”

The good news is that your sex-ed teacher was wrong: You can have sex. You probably won’t die. And the pull-out method is a very real birth control option.

For those who don’t know what the pull-out method is, I’ll explain. Also known as withdrawal, the pull-out method is when the male pulls his penis out of the vagina right before ejaculation.

After that, he can come on his partner’s breasts, butt, face or anywhere, really, that is not her eyes, hair or sentimental childhood stuffed animal, please and thank you. 

According to a new study put out by the Guttmacher Institute, “One-third of women at risk of unintended pregnancy used withdrawal as a contraceptive method within the past 30 days.”  

The study focused on women and found that college-age women, those ages 18 to 24, are actually the most likely to use withdrawal. Women rely less on pulling out as they get older.

This makes sense. From what I’ve seen in my own life and in my friends’ lives, the pull-out method is used mostly as a last resort. I don’t see most 30 year olds getting too drunk from Margarita Mondays to find a condom. 

But that’s what makes the pull-out method so great. All out of condoms? Forget to take your birth control pill? Just pull and pray. 

It’s reassuring to know that when you do that, the rate of pregnancy prevention is pretty high. 

Typical use of the pull-out method has a failure rate of 18 percent, which is about the same as the condom failure rate of 17 percent, according to the Guttmacher study. Perfect use of pulling out and condoms results in a 4 percent and 2 percent failure rate, respectively.

The big drawback to the pull-out method is that it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases. As such, I recommend using it only if you and your partner trust each other, have gotten tested and know each other’s sexual history. 

Using a condom, and maybe, a backup form of birth control, is still a good idea when you’re hooking up with that Tinder match whose last name you don’t even know. 

It’s also important that the guy can control himself when using this method. It’s a bad idea to rely on pulling out if you usually ejaculate prematurely. 

The gentleman also needs to stay mindful during sex. It’s easy to get lost in how good things feel, but you need to pay attention enough to actually know when to pull out. 

I still encourage you to explore other birth control options. Part of having responsible sex is taking ownership of your sexual health. The pull-out method is a great backup, but consistent contraceptive use is the safest option.

So make sure to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy, whether that means pulling out or using another form of birth control. 

And send your dad a Father’s Day card. He’ll thank you on both accounts.

[Robyn Smith is a UF journalism junior. Her columns appear on Tuesdays. A version of this column ran on page 7 on 6/10/2014 under the headline "‘Pull and pray’: Let’s play"]

(8) comments


Robyn -

This is your TA for the course, "Clickbait in Internet Journalism". I've awarded your assignment submission an A. Your choice of intentionally naive, borderline dangerous position to discuss is perfect to guarantee maximum sharing exposure on Facebook, surely accompanied with comments like "I can't believe the Alligator ran this piece!"

Your assignment for next week will be to write a thought piece based on the reaction you get. Be sure to include a line like "the true purpose of my article was to start a dialogue on the subject of birth control", and be sure to write it in such a way that no one actually develops a new thought from reading it.

I have high hopes from you! A few more pieces like this one, and I'm sure the job offers will roll in from sites like Huffington Post, Slate, and Jezebel. You have a bright future of notoriety devoid of any journalistic integrity ahead of you!


I hope nobody gets pregnant because they chose to listen to your terrible advice. There's a reason websites and agencies denounce the pullout method, yet you feel you know better? Maybe you should take a statistics class instead of another women's studies class so you can actually learn something useful -- like how to interpret statistical findings.

The other guy was right. This is terribly irresponsible journalism (although they said it a little harshly).


I hope people don't accidentally get pregnant due to your terrible advice. There's a reason most websites and agencies don't recommend the pullout method, yet you choose to ignore all of them because Robyn Smith knows better.

The other dude was right (although they said it super harshly), this I'd irresponsible journalism. I hope people read this and disregard every word you say, except for maybe the last sentence.


I give her a B- for clickbait, bad title. I honestly thought this was going to be about religion when I clicked on it.


You've got to me kidding me. When I was in college, a student wrote in and explained how my letter to the editor "ruined the reputation" of The Alligator. Well, what a gradual descent to THIS. There are so many things wrong with this that I am hoping it is a poorly written satire.

College students have no business using the pull out method which, according to Planned Parenthood, is unsafe for those inexperienced sexually, those having sex with people they may or may not trust entirely (I'm sorry, the loser frat dude you find at the Swamp doesn't care about you), and those who MIGHT HAVE STDS. But according to Robyn, the only thing we really have to worry about when having sex is babies, right?

Girl, buy some condoms. Use them.


This is a terribly dangerous opinion piece about safer sex, especially with the added factor that the Alligator is written by and for the exact demographic that has the highest rate of pull-out pregnancies. As an aunt to a beautiful 2 year old boy, I can ASSURE YOU, my family was NOT THANKING my teenager sister for getting pregnant when she assumed pulling out would suffice.
You're also grossly under-representing the likelihood that the "gentleman" in question can exercise said power, or that you have the capabilities of knowing if he is truthful in his self-control prowess. Pre-ejaculatory fluids, which people cannot control, is still capable of getting a person pregnant.
Are you a sex columnist? Because I feel you have dangerously under-emphasized the potential for sexually transmitted infections when you are engaging in unsafe sex.
Birth control is expensive, you're right, and I'm am about advocating women's right to engage in carefree and meaningless tinder sex, BUT SAFELY. As University students we have access to condoms ALL OVER for free. The Rainbow Room in Peabody, the Student Health Care Center, WellFlorida Council has donated hundreds if not thousands of safer sex kits to Alachua residents. I myself have two bags of condoms in my apartment, feel free to ask me for some, but PLEASE practice safer sex. Medications cost more than condoms, and penetrative sex isn't the only kind one needs to have. Expand and explore your options, folks!
I would also like to note that this article is really cis-sexist and heteronormative. Women have dicks and have gotten their partners pregnant before. I really wish the Author would expand her vocabulary and knowledge so these articles are more inclusive of all our student body


As a health education major, not to mention as an adult with a good amount of intelligence and common sense, this article terrifies me. Are you actually being serious, Robyn Smith? Are you actually telling college students that if they can't find a condom, no worries, they can just "pull and pray?" You realize that the reason there are so many unintended pregnancies in high school and college is because ignorant men and women (or should I say boys and girls, given your immature and recklessly irresponsible article) like you think that trusting a 20-something dude to be able to perfectly time his ejaculation is a smart plan.


>Using a condom, and maybe, a backup form of birth control, is still a good idea when you’re hooking up with that Tinder match whose last name you don’t even know.

Literally nobody does that except for you, slut.

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