Wait, Can You Get Pregnant from Precum?

Between what you’ve heard from friends and what you’ve read on social media, there’s a lot you've probably heard a lot about sex — and getting pregnant. It can be hard to know what’s exactly true or not. But if you’re sexually active, or thinking of becoming sexually active, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Sometimes it feel like there are so many ways in which sex can go wrong. The condom could break, you could forget to take your birth control pill, or your birth control doesn’t end up providing the protection you assumed it would. Or, you may be too embarrassed to shop for condoms or ask for birth control, and may be thinking about using the pull-out method to protect you. But, as you may already know, that’s not the most effective form of birth control, mostly because of something called precum, or pre-ejaculation, which could cause pregnancy. To learn more about precum and the chances that it could get you pregnant, we talked to Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a physician at One Medical in Phoenix.

What is precum?

You might be asking, what even is precum? Basically, it’s exactly what is sounds like. Precum, also known as prejaculation, is the “fluid that comes out of the penis during arousal” before the orgasm and ejaculation (aka cumming), Dr. Bhuyan explains. Its main intention is to act as a lubricant during sex, and precum can sometimes carry a small amount of sperm, according to Planned Parenthood. This is where some you can run into a problem, if you are relying solely on the pull-out method to avoid pregnancy.

Can you get pregnant from precum? What are the chances?

Some couples use the withdrawal method, also known as the pull-out method, while having sex. This means that the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation — however, this is not the most effective way of preventing pregnancy. (Also, pulling out does not protect against STIs, so you definitely should be using condoms or another form of contraception when having sex.)

When a couple engages in the pull-out method as a form of birth control, they probably aren’t taking into account the sperm that might be in precum. So, if you’re having sex with someone who has a penis and it’s removed before ejaculation, precum could have already been released, meaning there’s a chance that sperm could be inside the vagina. Dr. Bhuyan estimates that there is around a 14 to 24 percent chance that you can get pregnant from precum, even if you do pull out.

How can you prevent precum from causing an unwanted pregnancy?

The only way to prevent precum (or any cum, for that matter) from causing an unwanted pregnancy is by using a reliable form of birth control. Dr. Bhuyan suggests the pill, an IUD, or a patch. She also stresses that it is important to use a condom “anytime there is contact between the vagina and penis.” While this won’t completely eliminate your chances of getting pregnant, it will decrease them greatly.

If you had sex and are worried about the possibility of pregnancy, you could also take an emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptions are effective methods of stopping a pregnancy before it starts, in the form of a pill like Plan B or via the insertion of a copper intrauterine device (IUD).

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