Can I Get Pregnant From Pre-Semen?by Lillian Downey
Pre-semen, usually referred to as pre-ejaculate or pre-cum, is the clear fluid that seeps out of a man's penis when he becomes aroused. It's not semen, which leaves the penis during ejaculation and contains millions of sperm. Many women wonder if contact with this fluid can lead to fertilization and pregnancy.
Possibility of Pregnancy
The short answer to this question is yes. You can become pregnant from pre-semen. You're much less likely to become pregnant from pre-semen than from ejaculation, but you still run the risk of depositing sperm into your vagina if your partner penetrates you without using a condom. Unlike ejaculation, which men can prepare for, pre-semen seeps out of the penis without the male's knowledge or control.
Medical advice has always contended that pre-semen contains sperm and should be avoided to prevent pregnancy. Emerging research indicates that this may not be entirely true. Pre-semen itself does not actually contain sperm. It's a clear liquid that cleanses the urethra to prepare it for sperm travel. If a man has recently ejaculated, there could be live sperm in the urethra, which mixes with the clear liquid, according to a 2003 study published in the "Journal of American Reproduction and Genetics." This sperm is usually only a fraction of what ejaculation contains and likely won't cause pregnancy. Still, it only takes one sperm and one egg to make a baby, so under the right circumstances, sperm in pre-semen can and will fertilize an egg.
Why You Should Still Use Protection
It's impossible for you to know if your partner's pre-semen contains sperm without stopping sex and analyzing the fluid under a microscope. For that reason, if you're actively trying to prevent pregnancy, you should use some form of birth control. Pre-semen can also spread sexually transmitted infections, like HIV and chlamydia. Condoms create a barrier between you and your partner. They protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Methods that Commonly Expose You to Pre-Semen
You can come in contact with pre-semen any time your partner's unprotected penis comes near your body. Certain methods of family planning, like the withdrawal method, may increase your risk of pregnancy from pre-semen. During the withdrawal method, a man attempts to pull out before ejaculating. This method deposits pre-semen into your vagina; if the man doesn't time his withdrawal correctly, he deposits ejaculate as well. If you are trying actively to avoid pregnancy, condoms or other birth control methods are more reliable.
Other Types of Sexual Behaviors
Pre-semen deposited into the vagina poses much less of a pregnancy risk than ejaculation. When you get further away from penetration, your risk decreases, but it is still present. For example, if your partner gets pre-semen on his finger, then penetrates your vagina with that finger, he could, technically, deposit sperm into your vagina. The chances that you'll get pregnant from this type of behavior are low, but you should be aware of the potential for pre-semen to contain live sperm before you engage in any type of sexual activity where his fluids could come in contact with your vagina.
- "Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics"; Does Pre-Ejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper's Gland Contain Sperm?; I. Petahtikva; April 2003
- American Pregnancy Association: Can Pregnancy Occur If...?
- Planned Parenthood: Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)
- MayoClinic.com: Can You Get Pregnant From Pre-Ejaculation?