Can you get pregnant from pre-ejaculate fluid?

The ins and outs of human fertility can be a tricky landscape to navigate.
Written by
Sophie Overett
Reviewed by
Last updated on
June 3, 2024
min read
Can You Get Pregnant From Pre-Cum? | Kin Fertility
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Between high school sex ed, TikTok trends and the stories shared by friends, the ins and outs of human fertility can be a tricky landscape to navigate at any age.

Somehow, misconceptions can take hold, and what we thought we knew about how our bodies might get pregnant, or how a healthy male might produce sperm, can become questions with longer and longer answers.

One of these questions concerns pre-ejaculate fluid, its role in sex and the sperm content of it, and as always, we're here to help.

After all, to ask any of these questions is ultimately to ask, can you get pregnant from pre-cum, and if you can, what can you do to ensure you're protected? Let's dive into it.

What is pre-ejaculate fluid?

Pre-ejaculatory fluid, also known as pre-cum, is a clear, colourless bodily fluid that is secreted from the male urethra after arousal but before ejaculation [1].

It’s produced by the bulbourethral glands, also known as the Cowper’s gland, and the Glands of Littre, which are mucus-secreting urethral glands that rest below the prostate, either side of the urethra [3].

Like with many things to do with both the body and sex, the amount of pre-ejaculatory fluid healthy males might produce depends on the person.

Some men have been found to produce none at all, while others can produce up to 5mL [3].  

What's the role of pre-ejaculate fluid?

In a lot of ways, it can be easiest to think about pre-ejaculate fluid as a part of the foreplay. It’s there to get things going, while also making sure everyone’s comfortable.

An important thing to note is that both the man’s urethra and the woman’s vagina are inherently acidic.

Ultimately, that’s not conducive to sperm, which needs a more alkaline environment to survive. It’s in this sense that pre-ejaculate fluid is crucial.

It contains acid phosphatase which helps to neutralise acidity, and it does this twice over.

Firstly, it lubricates the man’s urethra to facilitate the passage of sperm by creating a positive chemical environment there, while also playing a role in helping the semen to coagulate.

After that, it enters the woman’s body where it again neutralises the acidity and helps to create a more friendly environment for the sperm [3].

Is there sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid?

In short: there shouldn’t be, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t.

While most studies have found that pre-ejaculate fluid doesn’t usually have any sperm in it, there have been a few outliers where researchers have found that small amounts of sperm can sneak their way out of the reproductive system and into the fluid [4].

The reasons for this aren’t entirely known, but some researchers have suggested that this sperm is often leftover in the urethra from a previous ejaculation, and the best way to ensure that there will be none in the pre-ejaculate fluid is to pass urine before having sex to wash away any sperm [3].

What are the odds of getting pregnant from pre-ejaculate fluid?

While there’s not a concrete number that determines the odds of getting pregnant from pre-cum, most health professionals agree that the odds are pretty low [4].

That said, low odds isn't the same as no odds, and if you don't want to get pregnant, you’re best to not take any chances.

Does the pull-out method work for preventing pregnancy?

The pull-out method, otherwise known as coitus interruptus and the withdrawal method, is a common form of contraceptive, with one study finding that nearly 60% of women aged 15-44 in the US have used it to prevent pregnancy.

When done perfectly, the pull-out method can be a successful means of birth control, with The Royal Women's Hospital in Victoria reporting that it has the potential to be 96% successful in stopping unintended pregnancy [5].

That said, very few are able to do it perfectly, and in Australia, 2 in 10 women who get pregnant say they used the withdrawal method as their birth control method [2].

Other birth control methods to consider

With those odds, the withdrawal method isn't necessarily going to be the best form of birth control for you, and pairing it with other methods will give you the best protection to ensure any future pregnancies are planned and wanted.

Some of your more comprehensive birth control options include:

Male condoms

The male condom is not only a tried and tested form of birth control but an invaluable means of disease control when it comes to sexually transmitted infections.

When used correctly, it has a 98% efficacy rate and is easy to get in a hurry being available at the supermarket, chemist, and often in public restrooms.


The diaphragm is another type of barrier method of birth control.

It is a small, soft silicon cap that is inserted into your vagina and blocks the entrance to the uterus. When used correctly, it is 94% effective and can be used when menstruating [7].

Birth control pill

Perhaps the most common birth control method, the birth control pill comes in two different forms, the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill.

Both have a 99.7% efficacy rate, which makes both an asset to women's health and family planning.

Better yet, services such as Kin Fertility make this particular means of preventing pregnancy as simple as checking your mailbox.

Kin Fertility's contraceptive pill service not only helps you to find the pill that's best for you but automatically delivers it each quarter straight to your door, empowering you with the knowledge that your family doesn't start until you're ready.


The contraceptive skin implant is a little plastic rod that is inserted into your arm and slowly releases progestogen to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.

It's considered the most effective form of birth control with a 99.95% contraceptive efficacy rate [6].


The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device that is placed inside your uterus and affects the movement and survival of sperm there to ensure they can't find their way to your egg.

It lasts between 5 and 10 years and has a 99.4-99.8% efficacy rate, making it a reliable form of longer-term birth control [2].

What to do if you had unprotected sex and are worried you might be pregnant

If you've had unprotected sex and are worried about your chances of getting pregnant, emergency contraception is available to you without a prescription at any chemist in Australia.

Most commonly called the morning-after pill, or emergency pill, these must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex [2].

If it's been longer than 72 hours, you should take a pregnancy test and speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.

All of the tools you need to take your reproductive health into your own hands.