Chances Of Pregnancy From Pre-Cum And How To Prevent

✔ Research-backed

Using a condom during intercourse may not be a preferable option for some due to different reasons. However, this can leave them anxious about the chances of pregnancy from pre-cum.

Some couples may rely on the old “withdrawal” technique as a birth control measure to prevent pregnancy. However, pre-cum precedes ejaculation. But does it have the potential to cause pregnancy?

This post will tell you about pre-cum, including the occurrence of pre-cum-induced pregnancy and ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

In This Article

What Is Pre-cum?

Pre-cum, also known as pre-ejaculate or Cowper’s fluid, is a viscous and transparent fluid released from the male urethraiThe tube that carries urine out of the body for both males and females. In males, it also carries semen during ejaculation (1). Around 4 ml of this fluid, which can be noticed at the tip of the penis, is released during the arousal. A normal ejaculation has a sperm count of about 100 million sperm in each ml of semen. Of that, only a small fraction goes to the uterus and a smaller fraction finds its way to the end of the oviducts where the egg is (2).

Pre-cum is formed in the Cowper’s glands, which are present below the prostate glandiA small, walnut-shaped organ located below the bladder in men that plays a vital role in the production of semen of the male reproductive system. This fluid is alkaline and neutralizes the acidic urine.

The pre-cum also lubricates the male urethra to facilitate smooth passage of the sperms into the vagina. It contains enzymes and mucus but no sperms. Nevertheless, you cannot entirely rule out the possibility that it could make you pregnant.

Keep reading to know why.

Can You Get Pregnant From Pre-cum?

Whether or not you can get pregnant from pre-cum is a matter that draws varying views from healthcare experts (3).

Some experts state that the pre-cum can contain some amount of sperm that can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. If the ejaculation has happened during the same session, then some amount of sperm might stay back in the male urethra and can get mixed with the pre-cum. Even a drop of this pre-cum can carry the sperm and can lead to pregnancy if it comes in contact with the vagina.

Pre-cum may lead to an unplanned pregnancy

Image: IStock

However, another school of thought insists that pre-cum rarely contains any traces of sperm and pregnancy due to it is unlikely. If a man has had a previous ejaculation, then urination can help clear out the remaining sperm from the urethra. But a study done by Stephen Killick confirmed the presence of sperm in the pre-ejaculate, albeit in very small quantities (1).

Then there is the ‘pull-out’ method, where the man pulls out the penis from the vagina just before ejaculating, to prevent pregnancy. But does that work, considering that the pre-cum is still released inside? Keep reading to know the myths and facts about ‘pulling out’ and if it is safe.

Myths About Pulling Out Before Finally Ejaculating

It is a common notion that pulling out (coitus interruptus) before ejaculation is the best way to avoid pregnancy. Here we discuss the myths and facts about how effective it is as a contraceptive.

1. Pull out before you ejaculate to avoid pregnancy (4)

It is one of the common myths on ejaculation. Pulling out before ejaculation does not guarantee 100% protection from pregnancy because it is not always possible to pull out just before the ejaculation. Your partner might not even realize that he has started ejaculating or might not know the right time to pull out, and may end up making you pregnant unknowingly.

protip_icon Experts say
The WHO reports four out of 100 pregnancies per year with the consistent and correct practice of the withdrawal (coitus interruptus) method (7).

2. Pre-cum is extremely safe as it is devoid of sperm

Again, there are contradicting theories on whether or not pre-cum is safe. Hence, it is safe to proceed with caution rather than with the belief that pre-cum cannot make you pregnant.

3. Pulling out has side effects

It is believed that pulling out during intercourse can cause headaches. However, it is a myth and withdrawal during intercourse does not lead to any health risks.

4. Withdrawal during intercourse can prevent STIs

Even with withdrawal sex STIs can be transmitted

Image: IStock

Some people believe that withdrawal is one way to avoid transmission of STIs. However, it is not true as infection can be passed by skin-to-skin contact, intercourse, and genital contact.

5. Withdrawal makes men impotent

Another myth regarding pull out during pregnancy is that it makes men impotent and infertile. However, there is no evidence to prove it.

If you and your partner prefer the pull-out method, then following a few tips can reduce the chances of pregnancy. Read on to know more.

protip_icon Quick fact
If used correctly, the withdrawal method is 96% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, pre-cum may contain sperm, which can reduce its effectiveness to 80% (7).

How Can You Prevent Pregnancy From Pre-cum?

If you do not want to get pregnant, then it is necessary that you take some safety measures. These birth control methods make the best option even during the pull-out method.

  • Cervical caps inserted into the vagina can prevent any sperm from reaching the fallopian tube.
  • Diaphragm works like cervical caps, preventing the sperm from entering the fallopian tube.

    A diaphragm can reduce the chances of pregnancy from precum

    Image: IStock

  • Birth control pills prevent ovulation, thereby leaving no eggs for fertilization by the sperm.
  • Vasectomy is a male sterilization method, wherein the duct between the testicles and urethra is sealed to prevent the sperms from entering into the urethra.
  • Birth control implant is another contraceptive method that prevents pregnancy up to three years.
  • Birth Control Sponge (Today Sponge Nonoxynol-9) includes a foam sponge with spermicide, which is inserted into the vagina before intercourse. The spermicide kills the sperms entering the uterus.
  • Birth control shot or Depo-Provera is an effective contraceptive injection, which needs to be taken every three months but for not more than two years.
  • A birth control vaginal ring, also called NuvaRing, is inserted inside the vagina to prevent conception from occurring for around three weeks.
  • Use barrier methods such as condoms to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. You can choose between male and female condoms.
protip_icon Quick fact
Hormonal contraceptives may be contraindicated in females with conditions such as breast cancer (9).
Condoms help prevent pregnancy from precum

Image: IStock

The Pull Out And Pre-Cum Method – Tips To Follow While Having Intercourse

If you wish to go ahead with the pull out method, i.e., withdrawal, you need to follow some safety tips that can help you to avoid any unplanned pregnancy. Note that the pull-out method alone is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.

1. Try it a few times before doing it without a contraceptive

  • During intercourse, make sure that your partner wears a contraceptive. This will help him understand when he needs to pull out.
  • Trying a few times with it can help both of you to understand if this method really works. If you are unsure, then continue using condoms or other contraceptive methods.

2. Pulling out can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Pulling out at the right time may work perfectly for stopping pregnancy, but it cannot stop the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. The STI’s can be contracted through lesions or ulcers that are present on the genitals. Moreover, if the male is infected with HIV, chlamydiaiA bacterial infection spread through oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse , or gonorrheaiAn infection of the genitals, rectum, and throat spread through sexual contact , the is a risk of transmitting these infections is high (5). A study conducted by multiple institutions revealed that chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV) comprised 97.6% and 93.1% of all prevalent and incident STIs, respectively.

So make sure both you and your partner are free of any infections before indulging in intercourse without protection.

3. Follow up a plan of action

Talking about how and when you are going to try the pullout method before actually going ahead with it helps. A proper understanding of what to do will prevent ejaculation inside you and reduce the chances of pregnancy. Also, have a backup plan in case the pull-out method fails.

Talk about what to do if you end up in pregnancy even after taking precautions. An unplanned pregnancy can be highly stressful for both the partners.

4. Always keep emergency protections handy

Emergency contraceptives may help prevent pregnancy

Image: IStock

Keeping contraceptives as back-up is a good idea if you are trying the pull out method. This helps prevent any pregnancy even if you fail to pull out in time. It is best to carry contraceptives with you. Clean up immediately after the intercourse and pop up a contraceptive pill to ensure safety.

protip_icon Point to consider
Emergency contraceptives may be effective when taken up to five days after unprotected intercourse. However, the sooner the better (10).

5. Track your monthly menstrual cycle

Track your monthly menstrual cycle by keeping a record of the last menses date to know when it is safe to have unprotected intercourse.

If you have doubts, talk to your doctor and get clarity on the most fertile days and use contraceptives on those dates.

Keep reading for answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it possible to get pregnant without penetration?

If ejaculation takes place near the vagina, then the sperm will enter the vagina and travel towards the uterus. Even if your partner does not enter you completely but the ejaculation comes in contact with the vagina, there are chances of pregnancy.

2. Can you get pregnant while grinding?

Yes, if you are grinding nude and your partner has ejaculated earlier during the same session, then there are chances of the pre-cum getting into your vagina and increasing the chances of pregnancy. However, if you indulge in the act fully clothed, then the chances of the sperm entering the vagina are few.

3. Can you get pregnant from pre-cum when dry humping?

Dry humping is a form of intimacy in which the couples perform lovemaking acts with clothes on. Even if the pre-cum contains sperm, there is less chance of it entering the vagina. Thus, dry humping reduces the chances of getting pregnant.

4. Can you get pregnant from pre-cum while on birth control pills?

The birth control pills prevent ovulation. With no eggs available for fertilization by the sperm, the chances of pregnancy become nil. If you are on birth control pills, then there is no chance of getting pregnant from pre-cum (6).

5. Can pregnancy occur if precum is released during oral intercourse?

It is impossible to get pregnant from oral intercourse, regardless of whether ejaculate is swallowed or not. Pregnancy can only occur if ejaculate or pre-ejaculate comes into contact with the vulva or vagina (11).

6. Can pregnancy occur if precum is released during anal intercourse?

Pregnancy is unlikely from precum during anal intercourse as the anus and gastrointestinal tract are not connected to the reproductive tract. Theoretically, pregnancy is possible if sperm lands on the vaginal opening during anal intercourse but is unlikely without vaginal penetration (12).

Pre-cum contains a small amount of sperm. Some experts believe it can cause pregnancy, while others deny this possibility. Cervical caps, birth control pills, and vaginal rings are a few ways to prevent pregnancy from pre-cum. The pull-out method does not guarantee 100 percent protection. However, if you want to follow the pull-out or withdrawal method, do so with other effective contraception methods to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

Infographic: How Can You Prevent Pregnancy From Pre-Cum?

Pre-cum refers to small quantities of fluid that contain sperm and lead to pregnancy. Hence, to avoid unintended pregnancy following intercourse, it is important to take the necessary precautions for birth control. The infographic below explains the ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy from pre-cum and protect sexual health.

methods to prevent pregnancy from precum (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Pre-cum contains enzymes and mucus, and the presence of sperm is uncertain.
  • Pulling out is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Myths associated with this method about lower STD risk, headaches, and impotence are unproven.
  • Contraceptives, birth control pills, and other methods prevent pregnancy and STDs.
  • Tracking the menstrual cycle and using protection can help avoid unwanted pregnancy.
  • Keeping emergency contraceptives and having a backup plan is helpful when the method doesn’t work as planned.

Learn more about pre-cum, also known as pre-ejaculate, which is a fluid discharged before ejaculation. Watch this video to learn more about this matter.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.


  1. S.R.Killick, C.Leary, J.Trussell, K.A.Guthrie; Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid; NCBI; Hum Fertil (Camb)(2013)
  2. Dr. Lindemann; Geometric Clutch Computer Model; Oakland University
  3. Can you get pregnant from pre-cum?; Sex, Etc.
  4. Myths and facts about… Withdrawal; International Planned Parenthood Federation(2012)
  5. D.Herbenick; Q&A:Can You Get Pregnant From Pre-Cum?; Kinsey Confidential(2005)
  6. Family planning/contraception methods; WHO
  7. Unmarried Men’s Contraceptive Use at Recent Sexual Intercourse: United States, 2011–2015; CDC
  8. Kendall;I get pregnant from pre-cum if I’m on the pill?; Planned Parenthood Federation (2011)
  9. D.Serfat;Update on the contraceptive contraindications; Journal of GynecologyObstetrics and Human Reproduction (2019)
  10. Emergency Contraception; WHO
  11. Can you get pregnant from oral sex?; Planned Parenthood
  12. More Sex Talk!; BuckMD Blog
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Dr. Subhashis Samajder, a consultant gynecologist-obstetrician with nine years of experience, is currently practicing at Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Howrah. His area of expertise includes abortion, colposcopy surgery, hysterectomy, hysteroscopy, infertility treatment, and menopausal problems. Dr. Samajder believes in sending his patients back home healthy and satisfied with the treatment. He also takes up women’s health awareness through his YT full bio