Pre-cum, otherwise known as pre-ejaculatory fluid, is a clear, sticky fluid secreted by the penis during sexual arousal. Pre-cum is capable of transmitting sexually transmitted infections STIs like human immunodeficiency virus HIV from an infected individual to their partner, so it is recommended to use a form of protection like a male or female condom during sex to avoid any significant risk. These small glands are also known as the bulbourethral glands. This pair of organs is located just below the prostate gland and are parallel to the urethra , the primary channel which transports urine and semen out through the penis.
This process of secreting pre-ejaculatory fluid most often occurs during the plateau phase of the male sexual response cycle. This fluid contributes to the overall sexual response by neutralizing the urethra, in turn creating a pH balanced environment in which sperm can survive before ejaculation. After exiting the urethra, pre-cum continues to facilitate sexual arousal by lubricating the head of the penis. In addition, pre-ejaculatory fluid is present in semen during ejaculation to protect and more easily allow movement for sperm.
Here at SexInfo , we most always recommend erring on the side of caution and using a condom or another form of contraceptive in order to avoid pregnancy and STIs that could result from pre-cum. Research from around the globe is conflicting.
Some studies suggest that there is no sperm in pre-cum, contrary to other research which has stated otherwise. A study found no sperm present in samples of pre-ejaculatory fluid from 12 different men. It should also be noted that in the previously mentioned study, the samples were left to dry before being analyzed under a microscope and while this would not eliminate the presence of sperm, it is not reflective of how one would experience pre-cum or how it could lead to pregnancy during sexual intercourse.
Continued research suggests that sperm is not as plentiful in pre-ejaculate as Masters and Johnson first implied; however, when sperm is present it is often enough to cause pregnancy. While this number is hardly a majority, the sperm were still actively mobile and thus could lead to a pregnancy. This study is particularly noteworthy because the researchers took the care to observe the samples under a microscope within two minutes of the subjects leaking the pre-ejaculatory fluid.
This is crucial, as it ensures the viability of the pre-cum as a method of causing pregnancy as it could during sex. There have been a few instances in which pre-ejaculatory fluid contains no sperm at all, and other instances in which a small group of males do have sperm in their pre-cum. These results suggest that it varies each time a male secretes pre-cum as well as on an individual basis.
Because of this variability, one cannot guarantee that pre-ejaculate does not contain sperm in any one instance, and as such, one should always use a method of birth control such as condoms to avoid the possibility of pregnancy. Condoms should not only be used to avoid pregnancy via pre-cum, but should also be worn as a means of avoiding the transmission of STIs via pre-ejaculatory fluid. Research which took place just after the AIDS epidemic yielded results in which pre-ejaculatory fluid was a viable means of transmission for HIV and other infections.
Getting tested and wearing a condom effectively prevents the possibility of unknowingly giving your partner an STI via pre-ejaculatory fluid. In general, males range in the amount of pre-ejaculate they produce. Most individuals produce just a few drops while others produce more than 5 mL.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that for some males this can be an extremely embarrassing and distressing issue. This is a common issue and is easily treatable. If this is the case, we recommend discussing the issue with a medical professional. There are many misconceptions about pre-ejaculatory fluid. For decades, sexual health advocates have been encouraging use of the condom to prevent STI transmission and pregnancy via pre-cum.
However, it is not always the case that pre-cum contains sperm. Despite this, it is impossible to know without thorough research in any one instance of sexual arousal whether there is sufficient sperm present to cause pregnancy and so condoms remain a relevant necessity. Here at SexInfo , we believe that erring on the side of caution is the best course of action when it comes to sexual health and pregnancy. We hope this article helped you to understand the facts about pre-cum so that you can better navigate sexual experiences in the future.
If you have further questions about pre-cum, sex, health, or relations, please reach out using our Ask the Sexperts feature. Skip to main content. Pre-cum Cowper's Secretions. The Function of Pre-cum This process of secreting pre-ejaculatory fluid most often occurs during the plateau phase of the male sexual response cycle. Pre-cum and Sperm: Disputing Research Research from around the globe is conflicting.
Pre-Cum and STIs Condoms should not only be used to avoid pregnancy via pre-cum, but should also be worn as a means of avoiding the transmission of STIs via pre-ejaculatory fluid. Concluding Remarks There are many misconceptions about pre-ejaculatory fluid. References Chughtai, B. A neglected gland: A review of Cowper's gland. Zukerman, Z. Kovavisarach, E. Killick, S. Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid. Human Fertility. The Lancet. Chudnovsky, A. Journal of Andrology, — Last Updated: 08 February Male Reproductive System.
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