Many couples pull out as 'doubling up' strategy

New research has found that a third of women who are at risk of accidental pregnancy have used the 'pulling out' method of birth control.

But the study, conducted by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, found that pulling out is actually being used by couples as an extra protection level.

Report author Rachel K Jones stated that most of the people who are using withdrawal "are also using another method, or ‘doubling up'" to avoid getting pregnant.

The research, which was published in the journal Contraception, also found that pulling out has a four per cent failure rate, meaning couples who use the method risk getting pregnant around one in 25 times they employ it.

In contrast, the failure rate of condoms was revealed to be just three per cent, showing this is still a much better way to avoid pregnancy than pulling out. Condoms are also a great choice due to the fact they are still the only way to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

World Health Organization statistics show there are more than 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites. Gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are among the most common STDs, along with human immunodeficiency virus, genital herpes, genital warts and hepatitis B infection.

The report said: "Increased awareness of the pros and cons of withdrawal has the potential to result in lower contraceptive failure rates."

Within the first year of using the withdrawal method, 18 per cent of couples will experience a pregnancy, the research found, which was compared to 17 per cent of those using condoms.

Data from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth found that while more than half of women (59 per cent) had ever used pulling out as a contraceptive method, only three per cent were currently using it.

The study concluded: "Many women and couples in our sample used withdrawal in combination, or rotation, with condoms and highly effective methods. Findings suggest that some people who use withdrawal may be more versus less vigilant about pregnancy prevention."