Withdrawal (Coitus Interruptus) as a Sexual Risk Reduction Strategy: Perspectives from African-American Adolescents
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This study examined adolescents’ beliefs about the benefits and risks of withdrawal (coitus interruptus) with respect to both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the course of qualitative interviews with African-American youth aged 14–19 (n = 124) about sexuality and risk, 24 adolescents spontaneously introduced the subject of withdrawal as a sexual risk reduction strategy. Eighteen percent of the sexually experienced adolescents mentioned their own use of withdrawal as a contraceptive method. From adolescents’ accounts of their own and their peers’ use of withdrawal, we learned that the cultural meanings of withdrawal within the context of adolescent relationships were multifaceted. Using withdrawal could signal sexual prowess in male youth, was seen as promoting trust and caring within a stable relationship, and was seen as mitigating the risk of pregnancy. However, adolescents also recognized that withdrawal did not protect against most STIs. Beliefs about withdrawal as a gendered skill and as a sign of trust may undermine some adolescents’ attempts to negotiate condom use for protection against STIs.
KeywordsSexually transmitted infections HIV/AIDS Adolescents Withdrawal Contraception African-American
This study was conducted through the iMPPACS network supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health (Pim Brouwers, Project Officer) at the following sites and local contributors: Columbia, SC (U01 MH66802; Robert Valois (PI), Naomi Farber); Macon, GA (MH066807; Ralph DiClemente (PI), Gina M. Wingood, Laura F. Salazar, Pamela J. Fleischauer; interviewers: Tekla Evans and Philip Williams); Philadelphia, PA (U01-MH066809; Daniel Romer (PI), Bonita Stanton, Jennifer Horner); Providence, RI (U01-MH-066785; Larry Brown (PI)); Syracuse, NY (U01-MH-66794; Peter Vanable (PI), Michael Carey, Rebecca Bostwick; interviewers: Tanesha Cameron, Larry Hammonds).
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