April 21, 2008

Q&A: Sex For Only Twenty Seconds And Pregnancy Risk

A reader asks about the possibility and potential risk of pregnancy after only a short amount of vaginal intercourse

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Question: I had sex with my girlfriend without a condom, for only 20 seconds, is it possible she will get pregnant?

Here at Kinsey Confidential, we get quite a lot of questions about pregnancy. And no wonder – though most women and men want to be parents at some point in their lives, most of them also want to be able to plan to become pregnant when they are ready to, and to plan not to become pregnant when they don’t want to become pregnant.

Time Doesn’t Matter

As for your question about having sex with your girlfriend without using a condom, it doesn’t matter how short or how long the sex lasted. If your penis was inside your girlfriend’s vagina without a condom, then there is the risk of pregnancy.

That said, if you did not ejaculate, and the only fluid from your penis that got inside her vagina was pre-ejaculate (the thin fluid that some men notice coming from their penis when they are sexually aroused) then the risk of pregnancy would be very low. However, is this a risk that you or your girlfriend wants to take?

Pregnancy Risk

On the other hand, if you ejaculated inside your girlfriend – even just a little bit – that certainly increases the risk of pregnancy.

In order for a pregnancy to occur, there needs to be an egg and some sperm, and then the sperm need to fertilize the egg, and then the fertilized egg needs to implant itself – and stay implanted in – the woman’s uterus.

If your girlfriend was not ovulating at the time, then there would be no egg. But most couples rarely track a woman’s ovulation, and also ovulation timing can vary considerably, especially among young women.

Talk About Your Relationship

If you and your girlfriend do not want to become pregnant, we would highly recommend that the two of you talk about your sexual relationship.

  • How do you both feel about being sexually active together?
  • Is this something that you both want and feel comfortable with?
  • What expectations do you have for being sexual together, in terms of being exclusive, or seeing other people, or whether you see this is a serious, ongoing relationship or something that feels right only for right now, as with many friends with benefits relationships?

STIs and Birth Control

It is also crucial that you two discuss your feelings around sexually transmissible infections – which we call STIs – and birth control. You two have already had intercourse, even if just briefly. Have you talked about your histories of being tested or treated for any STIs? How would you feel about going together to get tested? What about your feelings about birth control and how, if you continue to be sexually active together, you might take responsibility for preventing pregnancy?

These are conversations that we would encourage for you to have together, and possibly with a healthcare provider, so that you can make informed, healthy decisions that help you both to feel good about your relationship.

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