222 Family Planning
Every community has traditional methods to prevent or stop
pregnancy. Many of these can be very useful in limiting the
number of children a couple has, although they are usually not as
effective as modern methods. But some traditional methods are
not effective at all, and some can even be very harmful.
Traditional methods that work
Withdrawal or pulling out (coitus interruptus). With this
method, a man pulls his penis out of the woman and away from
her genitals before he ejaculates. This method is better than no
method, but it does not always work. Sometimes a man is not
able to pull out before he ejaculates. Even if the man pulls out
in time, some liquid that contains sperm can leak out of his penis
before ejaculation and cause pregnancy.
Separating partners after childbirth. In many
communities, couples do not have sex for months or
years after the birth of a baby. This allows the mother
to give more time to the care of the new baby and to
regain her strength without fear of pregnancy.
Sex without intercourse. There are also ways to have
sex that do not cause pregnancy. Oral sex (mouth on
genitals) and sexual touch (touching the genitals or
other parts of the body) are both sexual activities that
many couples enjoy. They have very low risk of passing
HIV and other STIs. Anal sex also cannot cause
pregnancy, although HIV and other STIs can pass
very easily this way.
Avoiding all sexual intercourse (the man’s penis
inside the woman’s vagina) is the surest way to
prevent pregnancy, although it may be difficult to practice for
a long time.
Traditional methods that do not work
or can be harmful
• Omens and magic do not prevent pregnancy.
• Putting grasses, leaves, pods, and dung in the vagina can cause
infection and irritation.
• Washing out the vagina (douching) with herbs or powders
does not prevent pregnancy. Sperm move very fast and
some will reach the inside of the womb before they can be
• Urinating after sex does not prevent pregnancy. (But it can
help to prevent infections of the urine system.)
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012