Precum and pregnancy: Here are all the odds and possibilities

While precum itself does not contain sperm, it can pick up any that might be left in the urethra as it is passing through.

Couple in bed

Precum is a clear fluid produced by a male before the climax. It exits the urethra, the same tube urine uses to leave the body, and is often found on the tip of the penis during sexual arousal.

Precum helps sperm travel more easily out of the body and can be a natural lubricant during sex.

It looks similar to semen, which is the white fluid that comes out of the penis during a climax. While precum itself does not contain sperm, it can pick up any that might be left in the urethra as it is passing through.

There may be living sperm cells in the precum. This does not always occur and when it does, there are not very many sperm cells; however, it is still possible.

Though the chances are low, the sperm cells inside of the precum could potentially cause pregnancy. One study found that in precum samples taken from 42 men, approximately 17% of the samples contained moving sperm cells.4

In another study, out of 40 pre-ejaculate samples (taken from 27 men), 41% of the samples had sperm cells present, and in 37% of these samples, the sperm were motile and alive.

Since the sperm cells in pre-ejaculate do not come from the Cowper’s glands, how do they get inside precum? Research is not conclusive, but it is currently assumed that some men leak sperm cells into their pre-ejaculatory fluid, and these sperm cells come from the seminal vesicle (where they are stored prior to ejaculation).

The chances of getting pregnant from pre-cum are pretty low — but it is possible.

Pre-cum doesn’t usually have any sperm in it. But some people may have a small amount of sperm in their pre-cum. If there is sperm in someone’s pre-cum, and that pre-cum gets into your vagina, it could possibly fertilize an egg and lead to pregnancy.

There’s no way to know when there is or isn’t sperm in pre-cum — that’s one reason why the withdrawal method (pulling out) isn’t the best at preventing pregnancy, even if they pull out before ejaculation (cumming).

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