What is Precum?

By Hannah Rimm / 10 July 2019

You’ve heard of precum before, maybe from your eighth grade health teacher who was trying to scare you away from having sex or from your boyfriend who told you about the horrors of precumming on the subway. Either way you know it exists, but what even is it? Well, the TLDR answer is it’s pre-ejaculate, aka fluid that comes out of a penis when it’s aroused, like the way a vagina gets wet. The longer answer is a little more complicated.

The lower half of the bodies of a couple is showing. There's a wet patch on the pants of the person on the right, which is likely to be precum.

When a penis-haver gets aroused the body’s response is to get ready for ejaculation by creating a lubricant of sorts – usually about a teaspoon or less of liquid that is made in the Cowper’s glands, two small glands situated below the prostate. While it can be used the way you would use lube before penetration, it’s actually used by the body to lubricate the urethra to make the sperm’s journey from testicles to vagina as smooth as possible. The pre-ejaculate cleans the urethra of any urine or bacteria. Balancing the pH so it’s in tip-top shape to shoot sperm. Basically, it’s the body’s way of making sure the penis is fully prepped to get a vagina-haver pregnant.

Now for most penis-havers, the amount of liquid the Cowper’s glands make is not noteworthy – just enough to lube up the penis for putting it in a mouth, vagina, or anus. However, for a selected few, precum can be somewhat cumbersome and inconvenient. Some penis-havers may experience excessive amounts of precum. Though it isn’t necessarily health-threatening. It can be quite annoying to suddenly drench your underwear whenever you see a hottie walking down the street. If you are experiencing high levels of precum, especially in situations outside of the bedroom, consult a doctor! There are medications you can take to reign it in while still getting the natural benefits of pH balancing in the urethra.

Beyond what it is, the two biggest questions people often have when it comes to precum are “Can it get you pregnant?” and “can it give you STIs?” Read on to find out.

Can Precum Get You Pregnant?

An African-American looking man asking a caucasian woman if they can have sex without a condom. Precum can get you pregnant when mixed with sperm.

Yes, it can!  And this is why the pull-out method is not ideal if you really don’t want to get pregnant. Precum in it’s purest form won’t get you pregnant, but as soon as it hits the urethra it can pick up leftover sperm from previous ejaculations and carry it into the vagina. That being said, you can also clear out any leftover sperm by peeing as any fluid passing through the urethra can clean it out. So, yes, precum can get you pregnant when mixed with sperm. Therefore, to avoid pregnancy, you should use protection and not the pull-out method when having penetrative penis-vagina sex.

Can Precum Give You STIs?

Yes! Absolutely. Precum is a sexual fluid meaning it can carry bacteria or viral infections from the Cowper’s glands. And can absolutely cause sexually transmitted infections. These STIs can be passed through all forms of sex, including sex that doesn’t lead to pregnancy, such as oral and anal sex. When engaging in penetrative penis-vagina sex, the probability of precum transmitting STIs is much higher than the probability of it getting you pregnant, as the precum itself can carry infection. So if you want to get down and dirty and you’re not fluid bonded with your partner, use a condom. Even if you’re planning to engage in oral sex.


So what have we learned, pleasure people? First of all, precum is normal and totally not a big deal. But for penis-havers, if you pre-ejaculate a lot you may want to talk to a doctor, so you don’t accidentally drench your pants and learn of the true horrors of leaking through your white pants (periods are really hard, like so hard). Your body produces it to clean up your urethra before shooting out sperm, so that your sperm doesn’t die of acidity on the way out of you. It can also be used as lube, but you’ll probably need more than the teaspoon your body makes if you’re planning to have a long, enjoyable play time.

Vagina-havers, precum can (and will) get you pregnant, so please don’t use the pull out method if you’d like to have failsafe, pregnancy-free sex and definitely don’t use the pull-out method to prevent STIs. Precum can carry bacterial and viral infections. The only way to prevent this is with a barrier method of protection, such as a condom. Finally, precum is made any time the body is aroused, including when you are not having penetrative penis-vagina sex. So if you’re looking to prevent STIs, be aware of your bodily fluids before engaging in any form of sexual act – including those that cannot get you pregnant.

And that’s it! Precum doesn’t have to be scary or disgusting, in fact it can be totally useful. So get out there and play, just stay safe!

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