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Can you get pregnant from pre-cum?

It’s possible, but not likely, and it really depends on the situation and the person.

Pre-cum or pre-ejaculatory fluid is released when the penis becomes erect. Pre-ejaculatory fluid cleans out the inside of the urethra, which is the tube that carries semen and urine out of the penis. The fluid makes the urethra less acidic and gives sperm a better chance of surviving the trip through the urethra and—if penile-vagina sex has occurred—into the vagina.

One scenario where pre-cum could contain sperm is if there are live sperm inside the urethra (because of a recent ejaculation). The pre-cum can “pick up” the leftover sperm on its way through the urethra and out of the penis. Urination after ejaculation would kill leftover sperm. So, say a person has sex and ejaculates or cums at 9 p.m. and doesn’t go to the bathroom after. At 10 p.m., there is another erection and pre-cum fluid is released. That fluid can have live sperm in it. Is it enough sperm to get a partner pregnant? It’s possible but not likely.

A recent study found that some people always have sperm in their pre-ejaculatory fluid. It really just depends on how that particular person’s body works. It is impossible to tell (other than in a lab) whose pre-cum has sperm in it and whose doesn’t. Again, is it enough sperm to get a partner pregnant? It’s possible but not likely.

No matter what, though, pre-cum can carry sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so putting on a condom during genital-to-genital contact is a good idea.

For a pregnancy and/or STD test, emergency contraception or a reliable method of birth control, find a clinic near you or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) to be connected to the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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