What is Precum?

What is Precum? Ever wondered how likely it is to get pregnant from precum? Learn what precum actually is and if precum can cause pregnancy with Lovehoney.

What is Precum?

Ever wondered how likely it is to get pregnant from precum? Learn what precum actually is and if precum can cause pregnancy with Lovehoney.

Precum, or pre-ejaculate, is a clear fluid that seeps out of the penis during arousal, but before climax. It’s one of many fluids made by the bodies of people with penises, and while ejaculate tends to be a milky white, precum is clear. It acts as a natural lubricant for sex, while also making it easier for sperm to leave the body and neutralising the acidity in the urethra. It’s a completely normal process, and it’s similar to the lubrication produced by the vagina when aroused.

There are plenty of old wives' tales around sex, and fortunately we now live in an age where these myths can be debunked by science (and, often, basic common sense). One area of confusion that’s stood the test of time, though, is this little thing called precum.

Long the subject of plenty of rumours, worried message board posts, and post-sex anxiety, precum is a topic that’s baffled even the most accomplished sexperts. So, what is it? And, can it get you pregnant?

When does precum occur?


As the name might suggest, precum occurs before ejaculation when the penis is erect. It’s an involuntary reaction from the body, and it’s formed by the accessory sex glands. It’s a sign of arousal, and most people with penises will have experienced it, possibly without even realising it. Much like the vagina, the penis has its own way of dealing with arousal and releasing fluids, and precum is an element of that in the body’s natural way of reacting to things.

Does precum have sperm in it?

The truth is, it can. While precum itself doesn’t contain any sperm by nature, it can come into contact with sperm while it’s still inside the body, and sperm can leak into precum fluid as it travels down the urethra. Various studies have been conducted on the amount of sperm in pre-ejaculate, and it has varying results that depend on a variety of factors, such as age and sexual health. Thus far, no conclusive results have been found about the amount of sperm in precum, so it needs more research before concrete answers can be given.

Can you get pregnant from precum?

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Ah, the big question: can you get pregnant from precum? Well, it's not a simple yes or no answer, but as with the amount of sperm in precum, it’s safe to say it’s a possibility. Given that there’s always a chance that sperm will have leaked into precum, there’s also a chance that precum will be able to get you pregnant. Even though the chance is said to be small, it’s not zero either. It depends on a variety of factors: how much sperm is in precum (which is impossible to tell on sight alone), where you are in your menstrual cycle, and whether the penis has penetrated the vagina. It’s also worth noting that the fertility of anyone involved in sex is a factor since it’s such a huge part of reproduction and the ability to become, or get someone, pregnant.

Contraception options

Can you stop precum?

Short answer - no. Precum is a natural process that’s involuntary, so it can’t be controlled. You also might not notice it, since it’s a subtle reaction and if you’re in the heat of the moment, it might slip past you. The good news is it’s very normal, and precum is a sign that your body is reacting well to arousal.

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If you’re concerned about precum and DON’T want to get pregnant, there are plenty of contraception options out there that’ll help prevent this.


The most popular option for barrier contraception, condoms will completely block any sperm from entering the vagina and catches any fluid - including precum. They come in a variety of materials, so even if you’re allergic to latex there’ll be a non-latex alternative, and they can even help to spice up your sex life since you can buy ribbed or textured varieties, as well as flavoured ones. People often combine condoms with another method of birth control, but they also protect against STIs as well as unwanted pregnancy.

Internal condoms

Also known as the “female condom”, internal condoms are inserted inside the vagina and act as a shield against any fluid. They’re usually available in pharmacies or online, and sometimes they’re available for free at clinics, too. Like traditional condoms, they also protect against STIs, and if you want an extra barrier against precum, you can use them with traditional condoms.


Spermicide, which is available in many forms such as gels, creams, and suppositories, contains chemicals that stop sperm from reaching an egg. The “-cide” suffix means “to kill”, but it’s important to note that spermicide doesn’t actually “kill” sperm - it just slows it down, so it’s great if you’re concerned about precum.

Whichever formula you choose, the general idea is that it’s inserted into the vagina in the same way you’d use a tampon. Make sure to read the packaging carefully, though, as different brands will have different usage directions.

Spermicide also won’t damage condoms, so it’s another form of contraception that can be paired with condoms if you wish.

Contraceptive pill

Used effectively, the contraceptive pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, so it’s another useful and popular option if you’re worried about precum. If you’re going on the pill for the first time, a nurse will examine you and talk to you about different brands and pills out there, and together you’ll decide which one is right for you. Like spermicide, it’s often used alongside condoms, but you’ll need to remember to take it every day.

Contraceptive injection

A great option for anyone who doesn’t want to have to remember to take a pill, the contraceptive injection is given every three months and is around 99% effective if used correctly. The injection stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month, and also thickens the mucus at the entrance to the womb, making it more difficult for sperm to travel. It also thins the lining of the womb, and, again, it can be used with condoms.

Emergency contraception

If you’ve had unprotected sex, even if you’ve used the withdrawal method (where the penis is taken out of the vagina before ejaculation), you might still be worried about the chance of getting pregnant from precum. If so, emergency contraception is available, and it can be taken after sex to prevent pregnancy. It can be taken 3-5 days after sex, depending on the brand, but it’s most effective in the first 12 hours after unprotected sex. It’s often available for free at sexual health clinics, walk-in centres, some A&E departments, and some GP surgeries. Some pharmacies may also offer it free of charge, so there are plenty of options if you’re worried.

Read more Sexual Wellness Advice from Lovehoney