Can I Get Pregnant If I Don't Have Sexual Intercourse?

I came into contact with semen; am I at risk?

Birth Control Choices. Credit: Photo © Charles Thatcher/Getty Images

Although the risk of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (penetration) is very low, it's still possible to get pregnant if you came into contact with semen at any point during sexual play. Pregnancy happens when a man's sperm fertilizes a woman's egg. A man's semen (the liquid produced when he ejaculates) contains millions of sperm. One ejaculation can contain more than 300 million sperm. As soon as the penis is erect, before the man ejaculates, a liquid called pre-ejaculate is produced.

This liquid can contain thousands of sperm. Men have no control over the production of this liquid.

Even if you haven't had intercourse, if any of your partner's sperm gets into your vagina, you can still get pregnant. This can happen if you or your partner has semen on your fingers, and then touches your vagina. It can also happen if your partner ejaculates near your vagina.

Sure, the risk of getting pregnant in this way is very low, as sperm can only live for a short time outside of the body. But doing everything but intercourse is not necessarily a fail-proof method of birth control.

How Can I Tell If I'm Pregnant?

A pregnancy test is the best way to tell if you are pregnant or not, though you must wait until you miss your period in order to get the most accurate results. You can purchase an at-home pregnancy test from your local convenience store. If this yields a positive result, call your doctor to schedule an in-office pregnancy test, conducted via a blood test.


How Can I Best Protect Myself From Pregnancy During Sexual Play?

If you want to avoid getting pregnant, find a real method of birth control. There are so many options available to you. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) are one of the most common methods of birth control for women. Forms of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as the intrauterine device (IUD), an injection, or an implant, are becoming ever more popular.

Because they remove the possibility of user error, they are considered the most effective form of birth control beyond abstinence.

There are also foams, patches, diaphragms, and more. Be sure to ask your midwife, doctor, or local health department for advice on the method that is best for you. 

You should also use a barrier method alongside any other form of birth control you use as a means of protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Further Reading

Before You Choose a Birth Control Method. When choosing a birth control method, there are several factors that are helpful for you to consider. Some birth control options are more effective than others, and no method is 100 percent effective. Lifestyle and personal factors may also come into play. Part of choosing a birth control method is finding one you feel comfortable with. You can discuss these issues with your doctor and, together, you can make an informed decision about which contraceptive may be the one for you.

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