Can you get pregnant from pre-ejaculatory fluid?

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Q:

Is it possible to become pregnant from pre-ejaculatory fluid (sometimes called "pre-cum" or preseminal fluid, or Cowper's fluid)?

A:

This is a common question among many of those who are sexually active. Before we get on to the answer, let us first understand what pre-ejaculatory fluid is and what its function is.

What is pre-ejaculatory fluid?

Pre- ejaculatory fluid is also known as pre-ejaculate, pre-seminal fluid, or pre-cum. It is a clear body fluid that is produced by the Cowper's glands, two small pea-sized glands in the male reproductive system. It continuously leaks out of the penis during an erection. However, most men are not aware of the discharge of this fluid and have no control over it. The acidic environment of the urethra caused by urine kills sperm. This is where pre-cum is useful. The function of this fluid is to neutralize this acidic environment of the urethra thus providing a safe road for the sperm that is about to come through during ejaculation. The vagina is also acidic and therefore releasing pre-ejaculatory fluid before semen may neutralize the vaginal acidic environment, thus making it favorable for sperm and their survival. Pre-ejaculate also provides a lubricating function during sexual intercourse.

Are there sperm in pre-ejaculatory fluid?

Pre-seminal fluid has dead or no sperm at all. However, it is possible for this fluid to pick up some of the sperm that were left behind in the urethra from a previous ejaculation and push them to the tip of the penis. Pre-ejaculatory fluid can thus carry the sperm to a partner’s body.

Research carried out in 2011 analyzed the pre-ejaculatory fluid of 27 male volunteers within 2 minutes of its production. It was found that 11 out of the 27 males produced pre-ejaculatory fluid with sperm and 10 of these samples contained a reasonable amount of motile sperm.

You cannot know for sure if pre-ejaculatory fluid contains sperm, but it is agreed that it is only possible when a man has ejaculated recently and has not urinated afterward. Urinating after ejaculation usually flushes out any remaining sperm in the urethra. Therefore it is unlikely for pre-ejaculatory fluid to contain sperm if the man has not ejaculated recently or has urinated after a recent ejaculation.

If, by chance, sperm enters the vagina with pre-cum, it can fertilize an egg, even if the man uses the pull-out method or withdrawal before ejaculation.

So, yes it is possible to become pregnant from the pre-ejaculatory fluid. The probabilities of getting pregnant from pre-ejaculatory fluid are very low compared with semen, but still it is possible.

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