Coitus interruptus  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal or the pull out method, is a method of contraception in which, during sexual intercourse, the penis is removed from the vagina prior to ejaculation, primarily to avoid introducing semen into the vagina. Coitus interruptus may also more generally refer to any extraction of the penis prior to ejaculation during intercourse. This method has been widely used for at least 2,000 years and was used by an estimated 38 million couples worldwide in 1991.


Perhaps the oldest documentation of the use of the withdrawal method to avoid pregnancy is the story of Onan in the Hebrew Bible. This text is believed to have been written down over 2,500 years ago. Societies in the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome preferred small families and are known to have practiced a variety of birth control methods. However, these societies viewed birth control as a woman's responsibility, and the only well-documented contraception methods were female-controlled devices (both possibly effective, such as pessaries, and ineffective, such as amulets).

After the decline of the Roman Empire in the 400s, contraceptive practices fell out of use in Europe; the use of contraceptive pessaries, for example, is not documented again until the fifteenth century. If withdrawal were used during the Roman Empire, knowledge of the practice may have been lost during its decline. A contributing factor to the loss of contraceptive knowledge was the rise of Christianity, which considered all forms of birth control to be sins.

From the eighteenth century until the development of modern methods, withdrawal was one of the most popular methods of birth control in Europe, America, and elsewhere.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Coitus interruptus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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