Precum (also known as pre-ejaculate, pre-seminal fluid, or Cowper’s fluid) is the clear fluid produced from the penis during a state of sexual arousal, prior to sexual climax or ejaculation. It serves as a lubricating fluid, which aids in the transportation of sperm out of the body. It can sometimes act as a natural lubricant for sexual activity, analogous to the mucus secreted by cervix as well as the Bartholin’s glands in the vagina.
Where does precum come from
Precum production starts in the Cowper’s gland — pea-sized glands located at the base of the penis, inferior to the prostate gland — and Glands of Littre — glands lining the urethra — with ducts that connect them to the urethra, the tube that allows urine and semen to pass outside the body.
Together, these glands produce an alkaline fluid which consists of mucus, proteins, and enzymes that neutralize any residual urine acid lingering in the urethra. This allows for safe passage for the sensitive sperm, which will flow through during ejaculation.
Pre-ejaculate fluid is a normal physiological function and sign of sexual health. The volume produced varies from person to person. Some people may experience larger amounts while others produce such small amounts that it goes unnoticed. Both are normal and healthy.
Occasionally, some individuals may experience significant amounts of pre-ejaculate fluid, which can soak through their clothes when they are aroused. While this may cause some psychological distress, there is likely no cause for alarm. However, if there is any concern, consulting one’s doctor for peace of mind is advised.
The amount of precum produced is not a reliable indicator of fertility.
Precum and Pregnancy
For pregnancy to occur, sperm cells from one partner need to reach the egg of another partner.
Sperm is produced in the testicles. Semen is the reproductive fluid that contains sperm cells and is expelled from the penis during ejaculation. It can resemble precum in appearance, but the pre-ejaculate fluid itself does not contain sperm.
While the chances are quite low, it is possible for precum to transport sperm and therefore there is a chance that a pregnancy could occur. For example, if an ejaculation has recently occurred, some sperm cells may still be in the urethra and therefore be added to the next production of precum mix.
To prevent pregnancy, condoms should be used during any penis-in-vagina penetrative activities.
Precum and STIs
Whenever coming in contact with bodily fluids is possible, the chances of transmitting an infection is increased. Sexually transmitted infections are contracted when the infected bodily fluids are passed from one person to another via mucus membranes present in and around the genitals, mouth, and anus.
Precum has the potential to carry bacteria, viruses, and other disease- or infection-causing agents, therefore safe sex practices such are STI testing and condom use should be considered and implemented before any sexual activities take place.