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"]