Heather Corinna replies:
Recently, my boyfriend and I have engaged in sexual activities. Not sex, but just touching & rubbing of the genitals, etc, as we are too young for sex, or anything. I was touching my boyfriends penis, and there was this liquid there, and I have no clue what the hell it is. His penis wasn't erect or anything, so it couldn't have been sperm, so I have no clue what it could be.
Do you know what it could be?
Sure do: that's called pre-ejaculate. Some people call it pre-cum.
Pre-ejaculate -- a clear, thin fluid -- appears from the penis when a man becomes sexually aroused, and can come from the penis at the start or arousal or erection, during some sexual activities, as well as before a full ejaculation. It's secreted by the Cowper's glands.
It exists to basically get the urethra "ready" for sperm to come through viable in semen with an ejaculation: it neutralizes acidity in the urethra -- due to urine -- and also to lubricate the penis (and foreskin, if your boyfriend's is intact). Sometimes it shows up in very small amounts, sometimes those amounts are larger.
It also CAN contain sperm, whether the penis is erect or not. Generally, it's understood that if a man has recently urinated, it is not likely to contain sperm, but that if he has not, or has recently masturbated, it can contain trace amounts of sperm which had remained in the urethra. Too, pre-ejaculate poses the same risks of infection through body fluids as ejaculate does, so if a male partner has a sexually transmitted infection -- like HIV or Chlamydia -- and those fluids come into contact with your mouth or genitals, it can pose risks of both infections and pregnancy.
(Just FYI? Touching genitals IS sex. It's not vaginal intercourse, for sure, but it is a form of sex, and carries the same sorts of emotional risks and complications as other kinds of sex, and can carry some of the physical risks. So, if you're not feeling ready for any kind of sex, I'd just make sure that you do feel okay, for real, about these kinds of sex. If you're not, know that it's always okay -- even if you've done some of this stuff already -- to ask for things to slow back down if this isn't feeling right for you.)