A cornucopia of "Can I get pregnant if...?"

Does precum contain enough sperm to get you pregnant if you have sex when its present? Also, if the guy pulls out and the cum gets all over your vagina and the a few minutes later he re-enters you, is that a pregnancy risk? My friends have told me that it's impossible, but I don't know. I'm scared, please help!
Heather Corinna replies:

Understand that if a person with a penis is aroused and/or erect, then there is likely some pre-ejaculate at some point. If his penis is visible, you will likely be able to see it, but for obvious reasons, if it's inside your vagina or your mouth, you're not going to be able to see it, and both you and he are also unlikely to be able to feel it, since both those areas are already moist.

Sperm may or may not always be present in pre-ejaculate. It's generally stated, for instance, that -- and knowing what we know about the anatomy of the penis, this is completely sensible -- sperm is less likely to be present in pre-ejaculate when a person with a penis has urinated after a previous ejaculation, or has not ejaculated in some time. It's often said that it is more likely for sperm to be present when the person has ejaculated very recently, and/or has not urinated before sex.

When sperm is present in pre-ejaculate, while there are less sperm present than in a full ejaculation, there can still be thousands of sperm in that fluid (to give you some perspective, in a full ejaculation there are anywhere from around 40-150 million sperm, so you can see why the risk from full ejaculate is far higher). While technically, it takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, it also takes a few hundred "helper" sperm to get that one little guy to that point. All the same, while the risks are indeed substantially lower with pre-ejaculate, there may sometimes still be enough sperm to do the job.

If a partner uses withdrawal, and ejaculates on the vagina or vulva, there is a substantial risk of pregnancy, whether he has intercourse again afterwards or not. However, having that intercourse again straightaway also makes it more likely that his pre-ejaculate will contain sperm. As well, going right back into intercourse again when there was ejaculate on your vagina can help move the sperm in that ejaculate even closer to your cervix, the opening of your uterus where sperm need to get to to create a pregnancy.

So, everything you're asking about poses risks of pregnancy, but the highest risk posed in those scenarios would be yout partner ejaculating on your vagina and then resuming intercourse.

Don't forget that all of these situations also pose risks of sexually transmitted infections, and when it comes to pre-ejaculate in the case of infections spread by fluids, the risks are no smaller than they are with a full ejaculation. In addition, some STIs -- like HPV and genital herpes --are spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact, meaning that contact between genitals, regardless of what fluids are involved, can pose transmission risks. So, whether you're trying to avoid pregnancy, STIs or (smartly) both, the practices you're talking about here aren't very safe. To prevent infections, you need to add condoms to the mix for all contact. To prevent pregnancy, condoms also do a great job, and if you want more protection than that, you can double up with a secondary method.

Sru17 asks:

I had sex with this girl 5 times and I pulled out with a condom on then I took the condom off. I then ejaculated, then I stuck my penis in her. Will she be Pregnant?

Check out the scenario above, Sru. That does present a risk of pregnancy.

For condoms to be effective, they need to be used correctly and consistently, and that means for all direct genital contact, not just some. The condom needs to be left on the whole time: taking it off, ejaculating and then dipping in unprotected presents a risk.

Next time, if you want to have intercourse a second time, you need to put on a new condom first.

Sam asks:

If I have had unprotected sex a day or two before my period is due and I've been taking the pill this past month and am in the section of the sugar tablets, and the guy did not ejaculate, what are the chances of me getting pregnant?

For most people, in the first month of using a combination birth control pill, by the time you are at the placebo pills, your pill will be fully effective. If you've taken it perfectly all month -- every day, without skipping a day, and have also not been taking any medications which may interact with your pills effectiveness -- then you can count yourself as a perfect user, meaning your pill was around 99% effective, leaving less than a 1% chance of pregnancy. If you combined withdrawal with the pill, and that also was practiced perfectly, you've added a second level of protection, but mathematically speaking, we're still looking at less than 1%, a very small chance of pregnancy.

Just remember that the pill or withdrawal do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so if you and any partner have not been together monogamously for at least six months, been using latex barriers for those six months, and have not both had at least one recent, full and negative screening for all STIs that it's safest to still use condoms for intercourse.

txgirl22 asks:

I am currently taking the pill and I missed taking the pill for two days. On the second day I had unprotected intercourse but doubled up on my pills the following day after intercourse. But I was sick when I took the pills and threw up just a few minutes after taking them. Is there still a chance that I could end up pregnant?

So, sounds like you're saying that given you threw up those pills, you basically missed two days of the pill in that cycle entirely. That given, yes, there is a risk of pregnancy. Even missing those two pills and then taking both two days later would create a risk, but missing them without taking them at all -- or in your case, without digesting them -- presents an even greater risk. If you haven't finished this cycle of pills yet, you will want to use a backup method of birth control, like condoms, for any sex in the rest of this cycle, and should your withdrawal bleed be late or unusual, I'd suggest taking a pregnancy test.

Too, if it has been less than 120 hours since the intercourse, you may want to consider emergency contraception.

Faith asks:

I'm going to my friend's house in about three months, he lives in New York. I go every year. We had our first kiss last May, and we ended up french-kissing for about 15 minutes when I went to his house, with clothes on and no protection and we didn't do intercourse. However, my period came on its due date which was 4 days after that date. But this time he wants to go farther this time with protection. So, my questions are: Does french-kissing make a baby?, and if we go farther with protection, with I get pregnant? I need to know soon cause we talked through phone and myspace cause we both have one. So could you help me cause I'll be at his house in June so please let me know cause he's ready and were both trying to get answers so we'll know.

And Nisha asks:

Two days ago me and my fiance were alone in the car and somehow we got attracted to each other and you know had very stong kiss. He also kissed me on my neck and boobs. Is that possible to get pregnant? I never had sex in my life before, and I am from very conservative family. God knows how that happen to me, now I am very very worried about it. I don't want to get pregnant before marriage. Please give me some advice.

Faith and Nisha: kissing of ANY kind, anywhere, does not present risks of pregnancy.

In order for a pregnancy to occur, there has to be direct genital contact (penis to vulva/vagina) and/or fluids from a penis must contact a vulva. This obviously happens with vaginal intercourse, but it can also occur with female-receptive anal intercourse, and, though it's much less likely than with those other two sexual activities, could potentially happen if you or a partner had fingers with fresh semen on them which were then rubbed on the vulva or inserted into the vagina. It can also occur if, as in one of the questions above, a partner ejaculates onto or very near your vulva.

With kissing, the contact you are having is mouth-to-mouth, or mouth-to-breast in your case, Nisha. Either way, the mouth doesn't produce semen or sperm, and in addition, neither your breasts nor mouth have a pathway to your reproductive system.

If and when either of you do engage in any activities like vaginal intercourse, or receptive (as in, in your anus) anal intercourse if you want to prevent pregnancy, you'll need to use a reliable method of birth control, or, for even better protection, two methods combined. If your partner wants to ejaculate somewhere during mutual masturbation or manual sex, he'll need to do it somewhere other than on or near your genitals, and if you engage in manual sex for you ("fingering"), then you'll just need to be sure he's washed his hands if he had any contact with his penis when it comes to preventing pregnancy.

But when I see users who are clearly very devoid of basic knowledge about sex and reproduction like you two are, my advice is also to do yourself a favor and take the time to educate yourselves well before moving any further sexually. That way, you can have a better idea of what your risks are and make your choices accordingly and informedly, and also save yourself an awful lot of stress and worry over things like this where there's just no cause for concern. That not only gives you a peace of mind you need to lead a healthy, happy life, it also makes any kind of sexual activity you might have -- even kissing -- a lot more enjoyable: sex doesn't tend to be a lot of fun or very positive when you're terrified the whole time. So, you might want to spend more time reading around at the site here (and pass it to your partners), and also grab a good sexuality reference book to dig into and have on hand.

Jess asks:

Can you get pregnant when you suck someone off and you swallow the sperm, because my mates are saying you can and I'm scared! Help me please.

Like I mentioned above, your mouth isn't connected to your reproductive system, and in order for pregnancy to occur, sperm has got to find its way into your vagina before it can get to your cervix, uterus, and your fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs. Oral sex does not present pregnancy risks.

Oral sex can, however, present risks of sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or HIV. So, unless you've been with that someone (and they only with you) for six months or more WITH condoms used for sexual activities for six months, including oral sex, and that person has had at least one recent and negative screening for sexually transmitted infections, you'll want to use condoms for giving oral sex regardless of the lack of pregnancy risk.

Niki W. asks:

Can you get pregnant if you haven't had your "cherry" popped yet, when sperm has been by your vagina?

If by your "cherry," you mean your hymen, understand that not only do most hymens not "pop," but that nearly all hymens, in any state, have openings large enough to let out your vaginal fluids, like your vaginal discharges and your period, and also large enough for sperm to get through. So, if semen gets onto or very near your vulva, intact hymen or no, risks of pregnancy exist. The hymen, in any state, is not a method of birth control.

Reena asks:

Can i become pregnant if I had sex just after my periods? For example, I started my period on the 1st of March, had it until the 5th, and from the 5th until the 8th I did sex. Can I become pregnant, and if I am then how do I know that I am?

The only reliable way to know that you're pregnant is through a pregnancy test: you can use a home pregnancy test you purchase at a pharmacy to do that (in which case you'd want to take it either on the first day of your next missed period, or around 14 days after your risk, whichever comes first), or get a test through your healthcare provider.

But yes, you could become pregnant that way, depending on when it is that you ovulate. I can't tell you when that is, because it differs for all people with menstrual cycles. We have some averages, mind you: on average, most people who menstruate will usually be most fertile between days 11 (that's 11 days from day 1, when a period begins) and 14 and sperm can live inside the vagina for around five days. So, users of the calendar method -- a natural method of birth control which only relies on a set window for all users, based on these averages -- will generally consider between day 8 and day 19 to be unsafe times for unprotected sex when it comes to risks of pregnancy.

However, those are only averages, and you may or may not be within them, which is why when it comes to charting fertility, calendar-based methods aren't very effective. You might, for instance, ovulate on day 11, in which case this activity would have presented a substantial risk, since you would have had sex a mere three days before your most fertile time. On the other hand, you might ovulate around day 16, in which case the risk would have been slim to none. To find out when you ovulate, you'll need to chart your cervical mucus and basal temperatures daily over time.

Anonymous asks:

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, so I get my period like every 4-5 months. Even though I don't get my period each month do I still ovulate? How would I find out I'm even ovulating at all?

Most people with PCOS will not ovulate regularly: a lack of ovulation or infrequent ovulation is part of what brings a healthcare provider to make a diagnosis of PCOS. However, you may still be ovulating during months when you do not get your period. However, it can also be tricky to try and chart ovulation when you've got PCOS. So, if you do not wish to become pregnant, you'll still want to be sure and use a reliable method of birth control. If you are looking to become pregnant, you'll want to speak to a gynecologist or fertility specialist to find out what your particular situation is in regard to ovulation and to find out what you'll need to do to become pregnant: you may be able to become pregnant through plain old intercourse, or you may need to look into things like in vitro fertilization.

Max123 asks:

My girlfriend and I have sex only at random times, maybe once every month and a half. And she has not had her period for about 2 months now since the last time. Does having sex only once in a while have an effect on the period? What else could it be?

Pregnancy would be the most obvious possibility.

If you and your partner are sexually active with any kind of genital intercourse, then if and when her period goes missing, she'll want to take a pregnancy test because pregnancy is one of the most common causes of missed or late periods. If that sex was with a reliable method of birth control used, the risk of pregnancy was probably greatly reduced, but we still don't have a method of contraception which is 100% effective yet, so there is always some risk. If that sex was unprotected, pregnancy would be a great risk.

If she takes that test now and it's negative, she can rule pregnancy out, and she may be missing periods for other reasons, like because she's young and doesn't have regular cycles yet, or because changes in her lifestyle -- like a diet, for instance -- have caused a change in her cycles. How frequently she does or does not have sex will not cause a change in her periods unless she has become pregnant.

Here's a roundup of some of the articles linked within this page and some other links to help answer pretty much any "Can I get pregnant if...?" a person could think of:

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