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Can Precum Get You Pregnant?

Can Precum Get You Pregnant?

If you are reading this, you are probably wondering if the wetness from a penis during foreplay might lead to pregnancy, in other words, can precum get you pregnant? Well, look no further, as this article will address what that wetness, aka precum, is; if you can get pregnant from precum, and how to prevent pregnancies if you fear the precum has sperm in it.

What is Pre-Cum?

Pre-cum, also known as pre-ejaculate, pre-seminal fluid, or Cowper’s fluid, is a clear fluid released by the penis during arousal but before ejaculation. Pre-cum looks like semen – the white fluid that comes out of the penis during an orgasm – but it is not, as pre-cum comes from the ‘Cowper’s gland’ and semen is from the testes.

Regardless of this, it is possible for semen to leak into it, meaning you can get pregnant if the precum enters the vagina. Most people do not notice or feel when precum is released because it is an involuntary response and there’s no way to tell if the fluid has sperm cells in it.

Why Pre-Cum?

Now that we know what pre-cum is, the next question is what exactly does pre-cum do?

Pre-cum has two functions during sexual intercourse:

  1. Pre-cum acts as a natural lubricant to help reduce friction during sexual intercourse. It is very similar to the fluid in the vagina when aroused.
  2. Pre-cum protects the sperm cells by neutralizing the acidity (alkaline) in the urethra. Since the sperm cells and urine exit the body through the same tube, when sperm mixes with the acidity from the urine residue, there’s a probability that the pH of the semen might be altered. This alteration makes the sperm less viable and reduces the chances of conception. So, the pre-cum mixes with the urine residue first to neutralize the acidity (alkaline) in the urethra so that the sperm that enters the vagina during ejaculation can travel safely.

How Does Sperm Get Into The Pre-Cum

Semen is the white fluid that comes out from the penis during ejaculation and sperm is the male reproductive cell in the semen that leads to pregnancy.

As we have established, precum does not typically have sperm in it, but some studies have found that if a person has sexual intercourse just after a recent sexual encounter, the precum traveling through the urethra can mix with the sperm left behind there. In one study, the researchers found that 11 out of 27 participants had sperm in their pre-cum and in 10 of them, a significant number of these sperm were motile – meaning that the sperm has the agility and movement needed for fertilization. Another study with 42 men found that 16.7% of the men had actively mobile sperm in their pre-cum.

Pre-Cum, Menstrual Cycle, and Risk Of Pregnancy

Even if the pre-cum has sperm in it, the risk of getting pregnant from it is also dependent on where you are in your menstrual cycle i.e ovulation and menstruation.

menstrual cycle safe and unsafe days

Here is a snapshot of how your menstrual cycle influences your risk of getting pregnant.

HIGH 3 Days before ovulation  The 3 days before and up to the day of ovulation are the most fertile. If you are exposed to precum during these days, there is a high risk of pregnancy.
MEDIUM – HIGH Ovulation Period An egg lives for 12-24 hours after ovulation and sperm can survive for 3-5 days in the female reproductive organ.

With this, at the beginning of the ovulation, if you are exposed to precum, there is a high chance of pregnancy, but the chances reduce over time.

LOW During your Period Conception can happen at any time in a person’s cycle if they are not using birth control and are exposed to precum; however, the chances of pregnancy during menstruation are low.

How to Prevent Pregnancy From Precum

what to do after sex to prevent pregnancy

If you have been exposed to pre-cum and you fear that it might have sperm in it or if you prefer to reside on the cautionary lane, here are 2 emergency contraceptives you can use to prevent pregnancies.

  1. Plan B (aka Emergency Pills or The morning-after pills) – Plan B is available for purchase without a prescription and is most efficient when used within three days after unprotected intercourse. It can still be used up to five days after exposure, though.
  2. Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD) – The copper IUD is a highly effective long-term birth control option, with a success rate of over 99% when inserted within 120 hours of exposure to pre-cum. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), it is considered the most effective form of emergency contraception currently available.

Can Precum Transmit STIs?

Even if you may not be worried about pregnancy, precum may carry bacteria, viruses, and organisms that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Please make sure to protect yourself by using a condom.


Pre-cum is the clear fluid released involuntarily by the penis during arousal but before ejaculation. Even though it’s released before ejaculation, it can contain sperm cells that can lead to pregnancy if it enters the vagina. So if you are not interested in getting pregnant, it is advisable to use a form of contraceptive and be mindful of exposure to pre-cum.

About the author: Lolo Cynthia is an award-winning African Sexuality and Reproductive educator who advocates for sexually empowered and liberated women and men through sex education and access to contraceptives. Lolo also addresses issues about family life, consent, culture, gender roles, media, and body image.

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