What is precum & can it get you pregnant?

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If you’ve ever had sex with someone with a penis, you may know this as the warm up act before the main event, but what is precum? #AskElla has the answers right here.

What is precum?

Precum, or pre-ejaculation, is produced when someone with a penis is aroused, but before they actually reach climax. This could be during foreplay, sex or even if they’re just enjoying a little ‘alone time’.

So what’s the difference between precum and actual ejaculate? Well, ejaculate is released from the testicles whereas precum is produced by two small glands at the base of the penis called the Cowper’s glands. When these glands produce the fluid it then travels through the urethra and et voila, you’ve got precum!

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What is precum for?

Precum is basically there to prepare the urethra for ejaculation. The fluid is slightly alkaline so it neutralises any acidity caused by urine and this protects the sperm in ejaculate. It also acts as a natural lubricant, smoothing the way for any sperm and making it easier for them to leave the person’s body.

Can you get STIs from precum?

Absolutely. The Cowper’s glands that produce precum can be affected by viral and bacterial STIs, so infections like chlamydia and HIV can be transmitted through precum. 

You should always use a condom with a new sexual partner and remember: getting regular STI tests is part of being responsible and sexually mature.

Can you get pregnant from precum?

This is one of the most asked questions about precum. The short answer is: yes. 

If the person has ejaculated recently, some residual sperm can linger in the urethra. So although precum does not contain any sperm itself, there is always the chance it can pick up a few stragglers on its way out. 

While pregnancy caused by precum is quite rare, it only takes one sperm to get pregnant. You should always use some form of contraception if you want to prevent pregnancy. Pre-cum is one (of many) reasons why the ‘pull-out method’ – where you have penetrative sex without protection, then pulling out before ejaculating – is NOT a method of contraception. 

If your regular method of contraception lets you down, ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill. It is most effective* the sooner you take it, but ellaOne can work for up to five days after unprotected sex. *For verification visit ellaone.co.uk/verify/

Fun fact!

Did you know that women can produce the female equivalent of precum? Yeah, that’s right women have Bartholin’s glands located in the entrance to the vagina. These glands produce extra fluid before and during sex to help with lubrication… but that’s about the only similarity. 

If you have any more questions about sexual health and contraception use the hashtag #AskElla and we’ll answer them. Looking for more A’s to your Q’s? Check out our other #AskElla content here.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.