What is pre-ejaculate? Is it sperm or not? Can you go from there? Are the risks high? Is there anything other than pregnancy? Let's talk about everything in order.
What is pre-ejaculate?
Pre-ejaculated, it is pre-seminal fluid, it is also pre-cum, it is also Cooper's fluid - it is a transparent secret that is released from the penis in a state of sexual arousal. The Cooper's glands and Littre's glands, located near the urethra, the same tube through which semen and urine leave a man's body, are thought to produce pre-sperm.
Amin Gerati, MD, a urologist at Johns Hopkins University, explains that pre-ejaculatory fluid prepares the urethra for the passage of semen. The fact is that urine creates an acidic environment, which is very hostile to sperm. Preseminal fluid is needed to neutralize residual acidity and make the path safe for semen. In general, think of precum as an opening artist for the show's main headliner.
Wait, so is there sperm in the presemen?
No, they don't live there. But these little sources of trouble can stay in the urethra if your partner ejaculated before intercourse, especially if he didn't urinate afterwards. And if all the stars align, Cooper's fluid could very well be carrying live sperm into your vagina.
"Usually that's not enough, " says Dr. Geraghty. "The risk of pregnancy before ejaculation is very low, but it is never zero. "
There is not as much research on this topic as we would like. In 2013, the journal Human Fertility published the results of one of them: scientists tested 40 pre-ejaculate samples provided by 27 men. Live sperm were found in 41% of participants. Granted, you can't call them first-class: only 37% were mobile enough to make the trip to the womb.
The study authors noted that all but one of the "samples" contained up to 23 million sperm. It sounds worrying, but it's actually not a number to worry about. In 2010, the WHO examined the semen of 1, 953 men who had pregnant women in the past year, and only 2. 5% of these men had less than 23 million sperm in their semen.
And why are we even talking about pre-ejaculate?
The issue of pre-cum is usually raised in connection with the termination method (aka coitus interruptus - quite the name of a dinosaur, isn't it? ), which couples often use for contraception. It consists in the fact that a man withdraws his penis from the vagina just before ejaculation in order to minimize the risk of pregnancy.
As you're probably guessing, it's not the most effective method of protection: its reliability is only 78% with "normal" (non-ideal) performance. And it certainly does not protect against STDs. But precum is hardly to blame for the dubiousness of the "do it yourself" method: no study could answer the question of when pregnancy occurred due to precum, andwhen - because of the semen, a drop of which nevertheless ended up in the vagina due to the negligence of the man.
So the problem is not that pre-cum contains a lot of sperm that you can get pregnant. The fact is that it is very difficult to use the interrupt method perfectly. If you're worried about two lines, choose condoms that have a 2% failure rate. Also, make sure your partner puts the condom on before his penis enters your vagina.
If you intend to resort to interruption, remember: it requires trust in the lover. Do you know for sure that he is in control and will always follow the rules you set together? Discuss emergency contraception: remember that it costs more than condoms, and if the interruption is chosen in the economy, you can get in trouble.
And, of course, there are STDs. If both of you have been tested and you do not have unprotected sex with other people, then you have done everything to avoid such diseases. But if these two points are not met, it must be taken into account: without barrier contraception, it is very easy to pick up something unpleasant.
And the infection occurs regardless of ejaculation. For example, gonorrhea and chlamydia often have discharge from the genital tract that can transmit infection, and for some STDs, skin-to-skin contact is sufficient. Condoms do not protect against the latter, but they help to reduce the number of contacts.
Alright, let's recap. Precum is quite an interesting thing that serves a specific purpose. Science still can't confidently answer the question of how likely you are to get pregnant from it, but that doesn't matter. The bottom line is that if you rely on the termination method and don't use condoms, you put yourself at risk of pregnancy and STDs. If this thought frightens you, talk to your doctor: he will help you choose the means of protection best suited to your lifestyle.