Spermatozoa in pre-seminal fluid: Is there a chance of pregnancy?

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 12/10/2021

Preseminal or pre-ejaculatory fluid is the viscous, colorless fluid secreted by the bulbourethral or Cowper's glands and the periurethral or Littre's glands of the male reproductive tract. This fluid is expelled to the exterior through the male urethra before ejaculation occurs.

However, nowadays, there still seems to be some debate as to whether or not there are spermatozoa in the preseminal fluid. In addition, the likelihood of becoming pregnant with this preseminal fluid, without ejaculation, is also a matter of discussion.

Characteristics of preseminal fluid

Preseminal fluid is a secretion produced by the male during sexual arousal. It is an alkaline fluid that, in particular, comes from Cowper's glands and Littre's glands.

There is no set amount of preseminal fluid. There are men who can secrete a considerable volume of pre-ejaculatory fluid up to 4 ml.

This secretion goes directly to the urethra, without mixing with secretions from other glands. For this reason, preseminal fluid contains enzymes and mucus, but, by itself, does not carry sperm.

It should be noted that, on the way of the spermatozoa towards the exterior with ejaculation, they do mix with the rest of the semen components, that is, with the seminal plasma formed mainly by the secretion of the prostate and seminal vesicles.


The main functions of preseminal fluid during sexual intercourse are as follows:

semen is more viscous than preseminal fluid. Therefore, one of the functions of pre-ejaculatory fluid is to lubricate the walls of the urethra to facilitate the expulsion of the ejaculate. In addition, preseminal fluid also acts as a lubricant during sexual intercourse.
Neutralize acidity
pre-ejaculatory fluid can act as a neutralizer of the acidity caused by urine debris in the male urethra. In addition, preseminal fluid can modify the vaginal environment (acidic) and thus facilitate the survival of spermatozoa after ejaculation.

At this point, to better understand what we have just mentioned, it is important to remember that both urine and spermatozoa share the same exit route to the exterior, through the male urethra.

Probability of pregnancy

Getting pregnant with pre-seminal fluid alone is a topic of constant controversy, both for couples and reproductive experts.

There are several investigations on the presence or absence of spermatozoa in the pre-ejaculatory fluid. In any case, both the studies that claim to have found motile spermatozoa in the preseminal fluid and those that defend the absence of motile spermatozoa in the preseminal fluid are based on very low sample size. This means that they have been carried out with a very small number of participants and, therefore, the results cannot be considered significant or conclusive.

In any case, even if it is confirmed that there are spermatozoa in the pre-ejaculatory fluid, the possibility of pregnancy due to the entry of this fluid into the vagina is low. However, it cannot be said that the probability of pregnancy with preseminal fluid is non-existent. Thus, the use of condoms before sexual contact is recommended if an unwanted pregnancy is to be avoided.

Coitus interruptus

Coitus interruptus, commonly known as pull-out method, consists of withdrawing the penis from the vagina just before male ejaculation.

It is considered a natural method of contraception, as it does not require the use of hormonal medication or other devices. However, it is not a 100% reliable method to avoid pregnancy due to the great controversy about the presence or absence of sperm in the pre-seminal fluid.

In addition, coitus interruptus requires the man to have a high degree of control over ejaculation, since the reliability of this method is also based on whether or not the penis can be withdrawn in time before ejaculation occurs.

In conclusion, coitus interruptus is not recommended as a contraceptive method to avoid pregnancy and, if it is practiced, it should be done once the woman's fertile period has passed. The explanation for this is that sperm can survive for several days in the female reproductive tract, so sperm from intercourse days before ovulation could fertilize the egg.

Last but not least, the reversal method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and there is a risk of transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with pre-seminal fluid. Therefore, the use of condoms before sexual contact is not only recommended to avoid unwanted pregnancy, but also to prevent HIV infection.

FAQs from users

Is the presence of HIV in preseminal fluid possible?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, HIV viral particles are found in seminal plasma and therefore pre-seminal fluid can carry them and there is a risk of transmission through unprotected sex.

How many spermatozoa does the preseminal fluid contain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

As we have commented throughout the article, it has not been demonstrated that pre-seminal fluid contains spermatozoa and, in the case of having them because they have been dragged from the urethra after ejaculation, their quantity would be minimal in comparison with that which exists in semen.

Is pregnancy by pre-seminal fluid possible on a woman's fertile days?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

It is very difficult for a pregnancy to occur through preseminal fluid without ejaculation, since the presence of sperm is minimal or non-existent. However, it is not recommended to have unprotected sex during fertile days in order to avoid the possible risk.

There are several types of contraceptive methods if the couple wishes to have sex without the risk of pregnancy. You can find information on all of them in the following article: Contraceptive methods: types, effectiveness, risks, and prices.

If you are looking for a pregnancy, in the following post you will find information of your interest: How can I get pregnant naturally?

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Demir O, Ozalp M, Sal H, Aran T, Osmanagaoglu MA. Evaluation of the frequency of coitus interruptus and the effect of contraception counselling on this frequency. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2021 Apr;41(3):453-458. (Ver)

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FAQs from users: 'Is the presence of HIV in preseminal fluid possible?', 'How many spermatozoa does the preseminal fluid contain?' and 'Is pregnancy by pre-seminal fluid possible on a woman's fertile days?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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