Sex is fun, exciting, and makes people happy.
It has been said.
When people engage in sexual acts, they don’t always do it to get pregnant and have a baby. In 2011, 45% of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the United States were unintended.
45% is nearly half.
For those who just want to get naughty between the sheets, that percentage can be scary. But when there is attraction and passion between two people, that number seems less haunting if not entirely forgotten. We are talking about sex.
Not many species practice sex for enjoyment and reproduction; the human species just so happens to be on the list of the species that do.
Sometimes that passion and sensation of sex isn’t as intense with condoms causing other methods of pregnancy prevention, methods that may or may not work depending on what studies you read or who you talk to.
Yes, I am talking about the pull-out method. Also known as Coitus interruptus and Withdrawal Method.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Nearly 60% of women aged 15–44 in the USA who have ever had intercourse have used coitus interruptus(withdrawal) as a form of contraception.
The pull-out method has become such a social norm for pregnancy prevention, but no one really knows if it works. People are left with questions:
How do I do the pull-out method correctly?
What is the pull-out method success rate?
If he doesn’t cum inside of me during sex, will I still get pregnant?
Can I get pregnant from precum during ovulation?
Is there sperm in precum?
Oh, yes, precum. The single flaw in the pull-out method. Someone could claim to have the best pull-out game but once he gets hard and erect with precum leaking everywhere, his game could be over with the plus sign of a pregnancy test.
It is about time we get to the bottom of all these questions, look at the studies conducted on precum, determine the effectiveness of the withdrawal method and debunk some of the sperm and pregnancy myths everyone asks me about.
How Do I Do the Pull-out Method Correctly?
I am sure all the men and women want to know how the withdrawal method is done correctly. Condoms have the worst reputation for desensitizing sex. Even though they are the best way to prevent a pregnancy, people just don’t like them. So, they rely on the pull-out method.
Unfortunately, ladies, there is nothing you can to do to help the efficiency of the pull-out method besides being on birth control. But for all the men in the room, this one is for you.
It does not matter what position you are in for this method to work, what does matter is that you are in tune with your body. Men, you will feel many sensations during sex, but the one you know and enjoy the most is the ejaculation. There will be a build-up of sensation in the penis/shaft area and before that sensation gets too intense you must:
- Withdrawing the penis from the vagina.
- Take matters into your own hands, pun intended, and ejaculate anywhere else but inside the vagina.
Yes, it is that easy.
Just two steps.
But what is more important for men to know is the moment before they cum, not that moment while they are cumming. Many men have said it is like a flood gate or a building sensation. Other men say they can feel a sensation in their testicles or there is a type of pleasurable spasm that occurs in the shaft.
That moment is when you pull out of the vagina. A couple of strokes may be needed to get things flowing, but ultimately, when that spasm happens, you need to be pulling-out.
Knowing the right way to pull-out to prevent pregnancy doesn’t mean that it will guarantee a sexual encounter without making a baby.
There is a single flaw to the pull-out method.
Before we talk about precum, let’s talk about how someone gets pregnant.
What is Pregnancy and How Do You Get Pregnant?
Women, you may not have had much of a role to play in the efficiency of the pull-out method, but you are the main contributors of knowing when your body is ovulating and when your menstrual cycle runs its course.
Pregnancy generally occurs when a male sperm comes in contact with female egg cells. This is possible through sexual intercourse and through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
Pregnancy is dependent on ovulation and this can occur either during a period or nearly twelve to fifteen days before a period is due. If a person is having irregular periods, then it is difficult to determine the actual date of ovulation.
Pregnancy occurs when semen travels through the vaginal canal and to an unfertilized egg in the womb.
When sperm enters the vagina, they come into contact with cervical mucus. The cervical mucus does two things; protects and rejects.
- It protects sperm from the vagina’s acidity.
- Rejects sperm with shape and motility abnormalities and prevent sperm from getting to the egg.
How the Female Reproductive System Helps Sperm:
The vagina has evolved biological responses to the mating behaviors of humans. These biological responses increase the likeliness of a woman getting pregnant during their ovulation. Paying close attention to your menstrual cycle will help prevent these techniques from achieving fertilization. Just remember, Sperm can survive up to 5 days in a woman’s vagina. So, don’t forget to count your days ladies.
The tissue between the vagina and uterus known as the Cervix will widen and decreases the thickness of the mucus barrier for sperm to easily pass through.
Crypts, or cervix glands, grow in number and increase in size to store more sperm and hormones or chemical signals will release from the egg to help with direction and when the egg has been successfully fertilized. And then finally, the female orgasm. The cervical spasms that occur during ‘the big O moment’ will actually encourage sperm to travel from the vaginal canal, through the cervix, and to the egg in the uterus.
For pregnancy to occur there must be a sperm and there must be an egg. But if you do the pull-out method correctly, then how can you still get pregnant?
The answer is precum.
What is Precum?
Precum is said to originate from special pea-sized glands inside of the penis. The Cowper’s glands and the Glands of Littre become functional during intercourse. Normally when a man urinates, these glands are not functional.
It is true, precum doesn’t actually contain any sperm. But it’s possible for sperm to leak into precum.
During sex, those glands open at different sites along the length of the urethra. These glands secrete an alkaline fluid containing numerous enzymes and mucus. This mucus is called precum. It is a sticky fluid that comes out from a penis during arousal before and during the sexual act. It neither has the thick consistency nor potency of regular cum.
Even if you pull-out right before you climax, precum is still likely to enter your partner’s vagina. And research shows that can lead to unintended pregnancy. One 2008 study estimates that 18 percent of couples who use the withdrawal method will become pregnant in a year.
Men are often not aware of how often or how frequent precum seeps out and they do not have control over the glands to stop precum from coming out. According to different primary care physicians, pre-ejaculation makes the vagina and urethra less acidic for sperm. It also helps sperms to stay alive for a longer duration inside the vagina.
Scientific studies have reported that the Cowper’s glands protect the genitourinary tract by releasing glycoproteins. These are proteins that help the reproductive system, the immune system, and the digestive system fight off antigens.
But the real questions are:
Is there sperm is precum?
Can you get pregnant from precum?
How likely is it to get pregnant from precum while ovulating?
Is There Sperm in Precum?
According to studies conducted under the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there can be sperm in precum, but it really depends on your sexual partner. A study reported 41% of the volunteers produced precum samples that contained sperm and in 37% of those volunteers had motility and full functional sperm in the precum.
Another study showed, actively mobile sperm in 16.7% of their volunteer’s precum. Semen analyses in the volunteers were normal in 97.6% the sampling population.
These two conflicting studies demonstrate a possibility of pregnancy from precum because the glands that produce precum do not produce sperm.
I’ll say it again, it is true: Precum doesn’t actually contain any sperm. But it’s possible for sperm to leak into precum.
This data is starting to sound like you can get pregnant from precum if there was sperm in it.
The more important question is can the amount of sperm in precum get you pregnant?
How Many Sperms are in Precum?
Enough to get you pregnant.
In both the studies mentioned above, there are enough sperms found in precum to get you pregnant. The difference between the two is the percentage of functional sperm found in the precum.
Full disclosure: The scientists that conducted one of the studies questioned whether or not some of the precum was contaminated with sperm from a previous ejaculation.
According to this study, in some volunteers precum samples contained sperm with equivalent concentration and motility to what would be regarded as fertile in ejaculatory samples. The volunteer’s precum samples contained nearly 23 million sperm. In the other precum samples, the sperm in the precum was very low.
Compare this to a healthy adult male that can release between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells in a single ejaculation and that number is considerably low. Collection of all the precum was not required but merely a drop on a Petri dish.
It has been suggested that any sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid must be the result of a previous ejaculation and that men who practice the withdrawal method should pass urine prior to sex in order to wash away any residual sperm (Withdrawal Method. Planned Parenthood, 2004).
However, in all cases in which we observed sperm in precum, the urethra had, of course, been washed with urine on multiple occasions after the last ejaculation, and therefore the contamination of pre-ejaculatory fluid must have taken place immediately prior to ejaculation.
Again, louder so the people in the back can hear. It is unlikely to get pregnant from precum, NOT impossible.
How Likely is it to get Pregnant from Precum While Ovulating?
Studies are showing conflicting data regarding sperm count present in precum samples and the sampling size of the volunteer and their precum.
While it is uncommon to get pregnant from precum, it is possible. Sperm can survive in a female’s reproductive tract for 5 days. During the ovulation cycle, a woman who is having intercourse regularly could increase the probability of pregnancy. It is important to keep in mind precum can occur the moment he gets an erection or experiences arousal.
If the sexual partner had masturbated prior that day, the possibility of sperm leaking into precum before sex is a reality and increases the probability of pregnancy. Which may have happened in the 45% of unintended pregnancies in 2011.
Can Precum Cause Pregnancy?
As discussed before, the possibility is there, but the likelihood relies solely on the sexual partners’ precum habits and sperm leakage.
Mixing precum and sperms together increases the chance. There are instances when chances of getting pregnant from precum are possible as sperm can survive 5 days outside of the testicles and in moist warm conditions, like vaginal walls.
When Should I take a Pregnancy Test If I Think I am Pregnant from Precum?
If you are not on any form of birth control, besides condom use, your menstrual cycle goes from start to finish between 26 to 32 days. Stress, eating habits, medications, and external environmental factors (the phenomenon of syncing menstrual cycles with other females) are just a couple of variables that influence the consistency of that cycle.
If 32 days have passed and you have not received your period, take a pregnancy test 1 to 2 weeks after.
Some over-the-counter pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy sooner than two weeks due to the hormones excreted from the body into the urine. Researching different products can give you results only when the scheduled period is missed.
What if I Accidentally Cum Inside of Her?
Options for Emergency Contraception
Emergency contraception, aka the morning-after contraception or post-coital contraception, are utilized the morning after sexual intercourse has been experienced. Some emergency contraception pills are used when:
- Deciding not to use condoms.
- Pull-out method failed, and you got cum inside the vagina.
- Fear that there was enough sperm in precum to get you pregnant.
- Condom broke and there was no spermicide to kill the little swimmers.
- Mixed precum and sperm together and it got inside the vagina.
- Deciding not to count the days of your menstrual cycle after he came inside of you and ovulation has already begun or you are within 5 days on your ovulation.
Emergency contraception is not a regular birth control method and it is specifically meant to be used in cases of emergencies. Forms of emergency contraception is the Morning after pills:
The morning-after pill reduces the risk of getting pregnant by 95% and is the most commonly used emergency contraception pills (ECPs) available.
Pills that contain levonorgestrel:
This pill contains a progestin hormone that helps prevent pregnancies. Some common pills with this hormone are Next Choice, Plan B One Step, Take Action, My Way, and Preventeza.
Levonorgestrel-containing pills are favored over estrogen-progesterone regimens because levonorgestrel is more effective and has fewer side effects.
Pills that are non-hormonal do not work for everyone and studies show that the effectiveness of levonorgestrel is low in women who are overweight and if taken 5 days after having unprotected sex.
The Pull-out Method Success Rates and Precum Pregnancy Rates
We have referenced several different scientific studies that were conducted by the guidance of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) that can finally answer whether or not precum can get you pregnant:
Yes, there are sperm in precum, but the amount is low and urination before and after sexual acts can influence sperm to precum leakage. It greatly depends on your sexual partners’ sperm count, masturbation habits, and amount of precum he leaks during intercourse.
Yes, the pull-out method is effective, however, the increase in the frequency of precum along the duration of the sexual act makes this choice of birth control very risky but maintainable.
41% of precum samples contained sperm and in 37% of those samples were full functioning and mobile sperm.
45 % of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended in a study conducted in 2011. 41% and 45% are numbers to be remembered when a relationship is focused on not getting pregnant without condoms.
Lastly, if you are practicing the pull-out method, the condom breaks, or you have a weird gut feeling of being pregnant within 5 days of the sexual act, there are emergency contraception options like morning-after pills that can put your anxiety and worries to rest.
Sex is not a bad thing and for most people, they enjoy doing it because it makes them happy. When both sexual partners are mindful of their body; men – knowing the sensation to cue them to pull-out before final ejaculation. Women – counting menstrual cycle days for ovulation cycles; little stressors, like precum pregnancy scares, don’t have to affect a healthy sexual relationship.
Here are 3 myths about sex and sperm that keep people from getting naughty in the sheets and embracing their sexuality
- SPERM ONLY LIVES FOR A SHORT WHILE
Not always! Lifespan depends on where sperm land after ejaculation.
Sperm that makes it into the vagina after ejaculation can live up to five days. This is due to the protective effects of cervical mucus and cervical crypts.
But if sperm has a chance to dry out, they basically die. Ejaculated sperm that land on cold, dry objects may die after a few minutes — although very rarely they may last a whole 30 minutes. They may die even faster in a hot bath or a hot tub due to the heat or chemicals in the water.
- IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET PREGNANT FROM PRECUM
False! Repeat after me, unlikely is not the same as impossible.
Biologically speaking, precum shouldn’t contain sperm — but sperm left over in the urethra, the tube through which both urine and semen are ejected, can get mixed in.
Sure, there aren’t as many as in new semen, but a 2011 study showed that nearly 37 percent of precum samples collected from the study’s 27 subjects’ contained a significant amount of healthy, motile sperm.
And a 2016 study of 42 men found that at least 16.5 percent of precum samples were full of active, mobile sperm.
So even if you’re using the pull-out method, there’s a small chance that some sperm can get loose and cause a pregnancy.
- EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVES ABORT FETUSES
No. This is wrong.
Here is the difference between the morning after pill and the abortion pill. The morning after pill can only stop fertilization from occurring. It can do nothing after the pre-embryo completes implantation into the lining of the uterus. The medication abortion terminates a pregnancy up to 63 days after their last menstruation.
Killick, S. R., Leary, C., Trussell, J., & Guthrie, K. A. (2010). Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid. Human fertility (Cambridge, England), 14(1), 48–52. doi:10.3109/14647273.2010.520798