Aunt Vadge: how fertile is pre-cum?

Aunt Vadge,

Can you get pregnant from pre-ejaculate on the outside of a condom? My boyfriend and I recently have felt comfortable enough to start having sex. It is the first time for both of us. I am on birth control and have been for 6 months.

I have to admit I don’t always take my pills at the same time but I do take every pill. The pill was not our only form of protection – we did use a latex spermicide condom.  

My question is: my boyfriend thinks while putting on the condom he may have gotten pre-ejaculate on the outside and penetration still occurred? Should we be worried?!?  What’s the chance of pregnancy?



Dear Cautious,

Congratulations on not only beginning your sexual adventuring, but on doing so safely. To answer your question directly, it is very unlikely that you have any chance of pregnancy from the situation you have described.

1. You are on hormonal birth control, and so long as it’s the combined pill, not the progestin only pill (which are very time-sensitive), you would have been covered even if your boyfriend had ejaculated inside of your vagina.

2. Pre-ejaculate is not semen, but sometimes contain sperm​1​. There is research that shows some men’s pre-cum contains live sperm, and those men will always have live sperm in their pre-cum, while those who don’t have any live sperm in their pre-cum usually don’t ever.

What this means is that you won’t have any way of knowing if your lover’s pre-ejaculate contains live sperm, and so you always need to protect yourself with birth control of some kind.

3. You were using a spermicidal condom, which means if sperm came into contact with the spermicide, it would have knocked it out.

In terms of your risks with missing pills, the problem with missing birth control pills is mainly that the change in hormone levels abruptly can cause you to ovulate spontaneously, leaving you at risk – if your boyfriend is one of those guys who has live sperm in his pre-ejaculate fluid – of an unwanted pregnancy.

This makes it important to learn how hard – and easy – it actually is to get pregnant, so that you don’t have to panic when things haven’t gone according to plan.

Spermicidal condoms are a good adjunct. Good job on being safe – it’s much more relaxing to feel secure, and be able to explore your sexuality feeling protected.

Worrying about being pregnant is a female pastime, so welcome to the club! If you need any more help with anything, please write to us again.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge    


  1. 1.
    Killick SR, Leary C, Trussell J, Guthrie KA. Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid. Human Fertility. Published online December 15, 2010:48-52. doi:10.3109/14647273.2010.520798

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