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What is precum?
Pre-cum, or pre-ejaculate, is a clear fluid produced by glands in the penis called the Cowper’s glands. As the name suggests, it is released during sexual arousal, but before ejaculation occurs. Pre-cum acts as a natural lubricant, but it also has the function of neutralizing any acidity in the urethra. This is important because the urethra serves the dual function of allowing both semen and urine to exit the body. Thus, pre-cum neutralizes any acidity left by urine in the urethra that could negatively affect sperm in semen. You cannot control when pre-cum exits the body, and different people produce different amounts of pre-cum.
Does precum contain semen?
In general, precum does not contain any sperm in it. However, there simply isn’t enough research that has been done to definitively say whether or not this is the case for everyone. In some studies, none of the participants had sperm in their pre-cum, whereas in others, some participants did.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that these studies had small sample sizes, and it was unclear whether part of these results could simply be caused by random chance. As far as we know, sometimes pre-cum fluid contains sperm, and sometimes it doesn’t.
You’re not alone
When might precum enter the body?
Pre-cum might enter the body even before any penetration occurs. For example, during foreplay, if your sexual partner’s fingers came into contact with pre-cum while you are engaging in foreplay, it is possible that pre-cum would then enter the body. Whilst the risks of getting pregnant from pre-cum are very low, they are never zero, so you might want to err on the side of caution.
Zvi Zukerman, David B. Weiss, and Raoul Orvieto, “Short Communication: Does Preejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper’s Gland Contain Sperm?,” Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 20, no. 4 (April 2003): 157–59, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022933320700.
STEPHEN R. KILLICK et al., “Sperm Content of Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid,” Human Fertility (Cambridge, England) 14, no. 1 (March 2011): 48–52, https://doi.org/10.3109/14647273.2010.520798.
During or After Penetration
Typically, precum fluid enters the body when you and your sexual partner use the withdrawal method, more commonly known as the ‘pull-out’ method. This method involves removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation occurs, thus preventing semen and sperm from entering the body. However, this method is by no means foolproof. Not only will precum enter the body, it is also difficult to perfectly time the withdrawal to ensure that no semen enters the body. What’s more, this method of contraception is left wholly in one person’s hands, which can increase the stress and anxiety for both partners.
Been in contact with precum? Here’s what you can do
Consider emergency contraception
If you’ve been in contact with pre-cum, and do not wish to get pregnant, you might want to consider getting emergency contraception. In Singapore, you can either proceed to a clinic to get emergency contraception (although note that not all clinics carry emergency contraception) or you can consult a doctor online and have emergency contraception delivered to you within 4hrs with Ease here.
When to take A home pregnancy test
Taking a pregnancy test too early may not give you accurate results. This is because your body needs time to develop detectable levels of HCG (the hormone that pregnancy test kits test for to determine pregnancy), so taking a pregnancy test too early may result in a false negative. If you miss your period, you would ideally want to take a pregnancy test the week after your missed period for the most accurate results. Alternatively, you might also want to take a pregnancy test if you exhibit signs of pregnancy, such as sore breasts, nausea, and food aversions. Taking a home pregnancy test may also help to allay your anxieties and concerns, so don’t be hesitant to test yourself if you have doubts about whether or not you’re pregnant.
What about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Besides the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, coming into contact with pre-cum could also expose you to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Thus, it is important for you and your sexual partners’ health to ensure that you get regularly tested for STIs so that you’re fully aware of your sexual health.
The question then is: when should you get tested for STIs? Different STIs have different testing windows depending on how long it takes for the pathogen to be detected or for the infected person to start showing symptoms. This helpful article outlines the various testing windows for different kinds of STIs. Generally speaking, 4-6 weeks or 45 days after exposure covers various STIs’ testing windows, so you can get tested during that timeframe.
The process of getting tested can be slightly daunting. There’s a variety of STI tests out there that cover a range of different infections. In Singapore you can get tested for STIs in a clinic or book a private and hassle-free at-home STI test with Ease here. At Ease, STI testing kits start at $49 and we offer a range of comprehensive test packages that test for a variety of STIs. If you’re unsure of which test you should go for, you can always book an STI teleconsultation for $20 with one of our doctors, who will be able to advise you.
The bottom line is: if you don’t want to get pregnant, prevention is key. The safest bet is to treat pre-cum as if it were regular ejaculation, and put on a condom before any penetration occurs. This is especially important if you’re not using other forms of birth control such as pills or patches. If you’re keen to get started on birth control, you may also purchase birth control pills or patches via Ease (starting at just $20 per pack) and get them delivered within 4 hrs or sign up for a birth control teleconsultation to discuss different options and brands with one of our doctors if you’re undecided on what would work best for you.
As mentioned above, if you have engaged in unprotected sex and suspect that pre-cum has been released, you may wish to consider getting emergency contraception if you do not wish to become pregnant. You can book a teleconsult with a doctor here at Ease to ask more questions and determine what the right choice for you is.