Since your sex drive started to wake up during puberty, you’ve heard and learned a lot about sex and most things related to it.
Precum probably came up in your conversations with your friends in your teen years (or even later in life).
Sexual health is one of the most taboo subjects worldwide and what your inexperienced friends told you about precum might not have been very accurate.
Let’s dig up some facts about precum fluid.
What is precum and when does it occur?
Precum is the discharge of pre-ejaculatory fluid that comes out of the penis during sexual arousal.
This pre-ejaculate fluid is produced mainly in the Cowper’s glands. They are pea-sized glands that secrete the pre-ejaculatory fluid called precum.
Cowper’s glands are located at the base of the penis and are present in all domesticated mammals, apart from dogs.
Pre-ejaculate fluid is secreted during sexual arousal to neutralize the acidity of the urethra in preparation for the passage of sperm. Remember, the urethra is also where urine passes through.
The vagina’s pH is slightly acidic. Pre-ejaculate might change the vaginal acidity to promote sperm survival.
The right pH is essential for sperm survival outside the testicles.
What is precum made of?
Pre-ejaculate fluid is made with the help of the Cowper’s glands, the glands of Littre and possibly the glands of Morgagni. Precum is a mix of components such as proteins, enzymes and mucus. Many of these components can also be found in semen.
However, sperm are not secreted from the Cowper’s glands and this is the main difference between precum and semen.
What is precum a sign of?
Precum is a sign of healthy males being sexually aroused. It’s part of good sexual health and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with secreting this pre-ejaculate fluid.
It means the man is aroused and his body is getting ready for ejaculation.
The pH in the testicles is different from that of the urethra and the vagina. Precum discharged before ejaculation of sperm has a very important mission: to ensure that the greatest amount of live sperm makes it to the inside of the uterus.
What color is precum?
Precum is a colorless, viscous, clear fluid. It looks very similar to women’s fertile cervical mucus around the time of ovulation.
It’s neither surprising nor coincidental that the fluids that prepare the field for the egg and the sperm to meet share many similarities. Both fluids are in charge of making the environment favorable for this important encounter.
Why is there so much anxiety about precum?
The answer to this question has a lot to do with the two most feared ‘conditions’ that can result from having unprotected sex: getting one of many sexually transmitted diseases or ending up with an unexpected pregnancy.
Sexually transmitted infections and pre-ejaculatory fluid
Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) happen when sexual body fluids (semen, precum or vaginal fluids) are in contact with mucus membranes in the genitals, anus or mouth.
When we’re talking about the potential transmission risk of a sexual infection from precum it doesn’t really matter whether the sexual fluid contains sperm or not. Most sexually transmitted infections are present in the sexual fluid itself.
Even if just a few drops of pre-ejaculate fluid come into contact with any mucus membranes, it’s possible to get sexually transmitted infections.
They could be bacterial infections, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Other STIs, such as HIV, hepatitis B, HPV, or herpes, are caused by a virus.
Getting pregnant from pre-ejaculate fluid
For many heterosexual couples, an unwanted pregnancy is as worrisome as getting an STI. Therefore it’s not uncommon to think of an ‘if it can give you an STI it might also get you pregnant’ scenario.
Older studies found there were from zero to 5 million sperm in pre-ejaculate, compared with a minimum number of 40 million sperm in a healthy male’s ejaculation.
It was also wrongly believed, in those cases where sperm was found in precum fluid, these sperm cells were remnants of a previous ejaculation.
Research published in 2010 showed 41% of men in the study had sperm cells present in their precum. This means it’s not a safe assumption that precum can’t lead to pregnancy.
What are the chances of getting pregnant from precum?
The number of sperm cells in precum (up to 5 million) is very small, when compared with the number found in a single ejaculation (from 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells).
In a sperm count, anything below 39 million is considered as low-quality sperm, where the chances of conception will be seriously reduced.
Having said this, it takes only one sperm to fertilize an egg. So if you want to avoid pregnancy you should always consider there is a chance to get pregnant from precum fluid.
Is it a slight chance? Yes, it is.
Can you still get pregnant from precum? Absolutely.
If the withdrawal or ‘pull out’ method is your birth control method of choice, be aware you aren’t protected from pregnancy, even if the man is able to pull out every single time before actual semen is ejaculated.
You can read more in Can You Get Pregnant From Precum?
What if a guy doesn’t have precum?
Pre-ejaculatory fluid is necessary to clear the way for the sperm to get outside a man’s body. It acts as a natural lubricant and regulates the pH level of the urethra.
The quantity of precum secreted varies from one man to another.
There is a possibility of precum fluid being secreted in small amounts – enough to do its job but not enough to be seen outside the urethra.
Not seeing any precum doesn’t mean it’s not there.
However, there are some rare cases where the discharge of precum doesn’t happen at all.
If you’re finding it difficult to achieve a pregnancy and you haven’t seen any precum fluid, then it’s worth getting professional medical advice.
On the other hand, research hasn’t found anything wrong with copious amounts of precum.
Is precum harmful to health?
Most men produce some amount of precum. This is normal and healthy for human fertility and is an indicator of sexual health.
However, there is a way in which precum can be harmful to you: it can transmit STIs. If you’re having unprotected intercourse, including anal or oral sex, you can get an STI from precum.
If you aren’t hoping for a pregnancy and you don’t know the health status of your sexual partner, make sure you don’t have unprotected sexual contact. Condoms are the best protection available against STIs.
When you plan to have a sexual encounter, make sure you’re protected from the very beginning.