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Author Topic: Questions about Breast Pain and Other Things
pocket_mouse_531
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Hey guys!
I had some questions for you.
1) Recently my breasts have felt a LOT more tender, achey, and swollen than usual. I do usually feel some tenderness in the days before my period, but my period is not due for another week or two, and the tenderness has never been quite as bad as it is right now. What are some possible explanations for my more-tender-than-usual breasts?
2) I also had a question about pre-ejaculate. I know that the fluids in semen have the right pH and acidity and whatnot that will allow sperm to survive. Does pre-ejaculate have these same properties that will allow sperm to survive? Or is it a different fluid entirely and does it prevent sperm from surviving outside the penis?
3) I have heard that you can become pregnant from pre-ejaculate, though the risk is significantly less. How much pre-ejaculate would you have to be touched with in order for there to be a risk? And would it have to be direct contact between a bare vulva and a penis covered in pre-ejaculate for there to even be a risk?

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Heather
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In terms of your breast tenderness, how long has this been going on? Days, weeks, months? Anything new or different with how you eat, how much sleep you're getting, anything else in your life?

The fluid in pre-ejaculate isn't the same as semen exactly, but to my knowledge, it has what it needs for any sperm cells in pre-ejaculate that are still viable (when any are present at all, and they often won't be) to remain so, and to help move those cells into the cervix.

One doesn't and can't measure "how much" in terms of your third question in teaspoons or tablespoons, mostly because there's no specific amount of seminal fluid needed for a pregnancy: the issue is really about the number of viable sperm cells, and then all the other factors involved -- if an ovum is available, if enough uterine lining is there, etc.

The issue with pre-ejaculate is that a) if often won't have any sperm cells in it at all, and b) when it does, those are trace cells left from a previous ejaculation. So, there won't be the millions in a fresh ejaculation, and the cells left over also usually won't be the "best" cells, if you follow me.

Pregnancy from pre-ejaculate certainly is possible -- though taking high risks of STIs is the real big issue with this. A penis is not ever likely to be covered in it, though, period, since pre-ejaculate is a small amount of fluid, but yes, by all means, just like with pregnancy with a fresh ejaculation, for there to even be a possibility of pregnancy, direct contact is likely to be necessary.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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pocket_mouse_531
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Hi Heather!
Thanks so much for responding to me! The breast tenderness has only been going on for about three days, but the tenderness is much more so than it has ever been. I did just come back from a trip to England about a week and a half ago, would that have anything to do with it?

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Heather
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It can: big travel can do a number on our bodies.

If this has only been going on for three days and is general, not local -- in other words, about both your breasts generally, rather than one tiny spot in one, I'd seriously not sweat it. Our bodies are going to have changes like this sometimes, and because it hasn't happened so far -- bear in mind that in the span of a lifetime, you haven't had breasts for very long -- doesn't mean you need to be concerned.

If it goes on for more than another week or so, gets severe, or in your breast self-exams, you find something troubling or new, then I'd check in with your healthcare provider.

In the meantime, it might help to just hydrate a little extra, get some rest to toss off the jet-lag, and take basic care of yourself. A hot compress might help, too, and sometimes switching (if you don't wear one already) to a sports/compression bra can also help with tenderness.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pocket_mouse_531
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Thank you so much!
I also have another question. If pre-ejaculate can sustain sperm, why do some people say that using the pull-out method as a form of birth control is effective?

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Robin Lee
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Using withdrawal can be an effective form of birth control, particularly if combined with another method. When not done effectively, it does have one of the lowest success rates of birth control methods.

Why it can work when performed properly is because, as Heather mentioned above, there often aren't sperm cells in pre-ejaculate, and, when there are, there aren't enough sperm cells to create the conditions in which fertilization could occur (again, assuming all other things being equal, such as the presence of an ovum). While it only takes one sperm cell to fertilize, many other sperm cells are needed to help it along its way.

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Robin

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Heather
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Withdrawal, as a birth control method, is around 73-82% effective in typical use, and is estimated to be about 96% effective in perfect use. It's safe to say that 4% window there with perfect use is probably the number of pregnancies in a year (that's 4 out of every 100 people using that method perfectly) that occur in a year.

So, it *can* be effective, it's just that a) it's one of the least effective methods there is, but mostly because of typical use, for several reasons, and b) like any method, effective doesn't mean 100% effective.

It takes WAY more than one sperm to create a pregnancy (and again, pregnancy isn't just about sperm, nor even just about sperm and ova). It takes at least a few hundred, and those few hundred have to be pretty fit, in a word.

It's MUCH -- so much -- more likely for a full ejaculation of millions of sperm to have a few hundred goodies than trace amounts of sperm from a previous ejaculation that can show up in pre-ejaculate. And again, remember that pre-ejaculate often won't contain any sperm cells at all: in and of itself, that fluid does not contain them. It just does *sometimes* when there are sperm cells left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pocket_mouse_531
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Ohhhh okay that makes sense. Thank you, both of you! But why does there need to be a lot of sperm in order for fertilization to be possible?
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Heather
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Have you read this before? Part of it explains just that. [Smile]

Where DID I Come From? A Refresher Course in Human Reproduction

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pocket_mouse_531
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I read it but I'm not sure I understand. So there need to be extra sperm so that they can play wingman to the one that actually makes it, right? Why is the role of a wingman even necessary?

Also, if pre-ejaculate doesn't actually enter the vagina, but just touched a vulva, is it easy for sperm to swim down into the actual vaginal opening?

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Robin Lee
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Yes, in order for the sperm to get to the egg, it needs lots and lots of wingmen. It's not predetermined which sperm will get to the ovum; it's not even predetermined that one will get there at all. Many sperm don't make it, so there need to be lots of them. Also, there's somewhat of a herding effect. One sperm could possibly make it on its own, but it's unlikely, and what is known about the action of reproduction is that many sperm (as well as several other factors) are needed to make sure it occurs.

What you describe, with a drop of pre-ejaculate on the vulva, has a low risk of leading to pregnancy. However, if one does not want to become pregnant one would want to avoid any direct contact between a bare vulva and bare penis, or between a bare vulva and ejaculate or pre-ejaculate. Know that we're talking about direct contact here.

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Robin

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Heather
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Also, a fertile ovum is surrounded by a sac that sperm cells need to get through. One can't do it by itself, it takes a few hundred all working to get inside for that to happen.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pocket_mouse_531
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Oh wow! That makes a lot more sense now [Smile] thank you both!

Just to clarify, direct contact between a bare vulva and pre-ejaculate means there's no middleman, right? Like if the pre-ejaculate touched a hand or something first before touching the vulva, that doesn't constitute direct contact, right?

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Robin Lee
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You got it!

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Robin

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pocket_mouse_531
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So if there was only indirect contact (penis to hand to vulva) between a little pre-ejaculate and a vulva, the chance of pregnancy would be nil?
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pocket_mouse_531
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Oh and also, today, I was feeling my boobs just to see how they were, and both of them had very swollen glands. I've had some swelling of the glands before, but they've never been nearly as swollen as they feel today. Is this really normal, or should I be worried? I'm concerned that if I did become pregnant (see my other most recent post asking for a confirmation of my pregnancy risk self-assessment), that this is my boobs' way of preparing to make milk or something.
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