Q&A: Pre-Ejaculate (or Pre-Cum) And Pregnancy Risk

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QUESTION: Is it possible to get pregnant from a man's pre-cum?

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Many people are curious about pre-ejaculate. After all, educational messages about pre-ejaculate tend to follow the line of thought that suggests men and women are – as they say – “better safe than sorry.”

Pre-ejaculate is fluid that comes from a man’s Cowper’s glands, which are small glands inside a man’s body, by his penis. This fluid helps to lubricate a man’s urethra.

In some men, this fluid is noticeable even when he is sexually aroused – a little bit might come out of his urethra during sexual excitement. In other men, pre-ejaculate is not noticeable.

Usually Not Possible

Regardless, there are no sperm in the fluids made by the Cowper’s glands. As such, unless there were already sperm hanging out in the urethra that were then carried out by the Cowper’s glands fluids, it is usually not possible to get pregnant from contact with pre-ejaculate.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to have sex without a condom.

Though pre-ejaculate usually does not contain many, if any, sperm (depending on whether any sperm were already in the urethra from a previous ejaculate), it still counts as a sexual fluid and both men’s and women’s sexual fluids can pass sexually transmissible infections, or STIs.

STI Risk

By having unprotected sex with another guy, you put yourself at risk for STIs from him. As such, you might consider getting tested for STIs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV.

Ask your healthcare provider about your risk for STIs and which tests would be recommended for you.

If you have had oral, vaginal or anal sex with your boyfriend since having sex with the other guy, then you have also potentially put your boyfriend at risk for STIs.

Talking to your boyfriend about cheating on him takes a good deal of courage, but it might be something you’ll want to consider.

You might also want to examine the reasons why you cheated on your boyfriend and whether there are any lessons you can learn from the experience, including ways that you hope to grow closer to your boyfriend or whether your current relationship is one that you want to be in.

Learn More

To learn more about STIs, explore our STI sexual health resources pages or visit the web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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