Original Study| Volume 22, ISSUE 4, P233-237, August 2009

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Contraceptive Withdrawal in Adolescents: A Complex Picture of Usage


      Study Objective

      Contraceptive withdrawal, or coitus interruptus, is a widespread method in adolescents, but factors affecting usage have not been longitudinally investigated. Study objectives were to examine usage numbers of withdrawal among a group of sexually active adolescent females and to investigate the influence of personal, partner, and family factors on usage patterns.


      Subjects (N=387; 14 to 17 years at enrollment; 92% African American) were recruited from primary care adolescent health clinics in areas with high rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. As part of a larger longitudinal study, subjects contributed face-to-face quarterly and annual questionnaires assessing contraceptive behavior, recent sexual behaviors, as well as partner- and family-based attitudes/beliefs.

      Interventions, Main Outcome Measures

      The outcome variable was: withdrawal use during the previous 12 weeks (no/yes); predictor variables included 19 individual, family and partner variables. All models additionally controlled for any current hormonal use (no/yes; any method), current condom use (no/yes) and past withdrawal use (past 30 days; no/yes). Logistic regression, with GEE estimation to adjust for repeated within-subject observations, was performed in SUDAAN, 9.0.


      Subjects supplied 1632 quarterly interviews; withdrawal was mentioned in about 25% of the interviews (392/1632). Controlling for primary contraceptive method, withdrawal was mentioned in 13.2% (51/307) of interviews with hormonal methods, in 32.4% (255/787) of the interviews with condoms and in 4.7% (78/1632) of interviews with no method. Current hormonal use was associated with a decreased likelihood of also using withdrawal (OR=0.34), whereas past withdrawal use increased the likelihood of current withdrawal by about 4-fold (OR=4.18). Condom use was not associated with withdrawal use. Current withdrawal use was more likely with a more diverse sexual repertoire (OR=1.65), more sexual partners in the past 3 months (OR=1.46), higher sexual control (OR=1.15), lower perceived STI risk (OR=0.46), higher sexual self-efficacy (OR=1.24), lower sexual coercion (OR=0.56) higher condom negativity (OR=1.16), living with a boyfriend (OR=2.17) and lower family sexual health support (OR=0.88).


      Contraceptive withdrawal in adolescents should not be considered ‘rare.’ Careful clinical consideration of usage within the context of other contraceptive behaviors, sexual behaviors/attitudes, and relationship issues could better inform effective contraceptive counseling efforts.

      Key Words

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