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How Pregnancy Happens

Dr. Rahman 92% (814 ratings)
Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (B.U.M.S)
Sexologist, Chennai  •  26 years experience
How Pregnancy Happens
How Pregnancy Happens
How Pregnancy Happens


How pregnancy happens at a glance:

Pregnancy is caused by semen (ejaculate or cum) or pre-cum getting inside the vagina.
You can avoid pregnancy by not having sex or using both condoms and birth control every time you have sex.
Emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) can prevent pregnancy up to five days AFTER unprotected sex.

How do you get pregnant?

Here's what CAN cause pregnancy: semen (ejaculate) or pre-ejaculate (pre-cum ) getting inside the vagina. Most often, this happens from vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina). Less often, it happens when semen gets on the vulva.

Semen comes out of the penis during orgasm, and it's chock full of sperm. Pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) is a much smaller amount of fluid (usually just a few drops) that's sometimes released from the penis before and during sex. It's usually such a small amount that it can be hard to tell if any has come out, but it can have a little bit of sperm in it. The chance of getting pregnant from pre-cum is much less than the chance of getting pregnant from semen, but it still might be possible.

Since guys can't control when pre-cum comes out, and it can happen anytime, you need to put on a condom BEFORE you start having sex and wear it the entire time.

Here's what CAN'T cause pregnancy (unless sperm somehow comes into contact with the vagina or vulva):

kissing
masturbation
body rubbing
oral sex
anal sex

Pregnancy can also happen with the aid of doctors and fertility treatments, like IVF and alternative insemination. People may choose these treatments if they have health conditions that make getting pregnant more difficult, because they are single, because they are in a relationship with another woman, or lots of other reasons. Learn more about fertility treatments.

How can I avoid pregnancy?

There are two ways to avoid pregnancy:

Don't have sex.
Use both a condom AND birth control every time (and the entire time) you have sex.

Can I get pregnant if his penis gets near my vagina but not in it?

Pregnancy can happen when sperm (from cum or pre-cum) gets in the vagina or on the vulva. This usually happens when two people have vaginal (penis-in-vagina) sex.

If sperm comes in contact with the vagina or vulva during body rubbing/dry humping without clothes, there’s a small chance of pregnancy (even if you don't actually have his penis in your vagina).

If you’re concerned about the risk of pregnancy, use birth control like the pill or IUD. And use condoms along with the birth control to reduce the risk of STDs.

If you’re thinking about having vaginal sex, talk about what kind of birth control you want to use with your boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s also a good idea to talk with a parent or another trusted adult, and then visit a doctor, nurse, or health care provider to choose a method and get on birth control. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can help. You can also take our quiz to find out what method of birth control may be best for you.
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