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Could I get pregnant if…?

A worried looking young girl holding a pregnancy test.

“Can I get pregnant if I fooled around with my clothes on?” “Can I get pregnant from kissing?” “Can I get pregnant from oral sex?” We hear lots of questions like these about what causes pregnancy. (And the answers to the questions above are no, no, and no!)

If you are concerned or confused, we are here to help. You can learn about:

What causes pregnancy? arrow. top

Here are some basic facts of (making) life:

Pregnancy happens when a male’s sperm joins with (fertilizes) a female’s egg.

For you to get pregnant, sperm has to get into your vagina. Sperm can get into your vagina a few different ways. 

  • Sperm is in the fluid (sometimes called “ejaculate” or “cum”) that spurts out when a guy ejaculates (“comes”). The main way sperm get into the vagina is when a guy ejaculates during sexual intercourse.
  • Sperm also sometimes can get into the vagina in pre-ejaculate (“pre-cum”). This is a little bit of fluid that leaks out during sex before a guy ejaculates. A guy wouldn’t know that pre-ejaculate was leaking out. That means you could get pregnant even if he pulls his penis out before he ejaculates.
  • Sperm can get into your vagina even if you’re not having sexual intercourse. This can happen if sperm get on the outside of your vagina and swim inside.

For you to get pregnant, one of your eggs has to be in the right place at the right time. You can read all about how an egg is released during your menstrual cycle and how the female reproductive system works. Keep in mind that:

  • It’s hard to know exactly when an egg is released, which means that avoiding sex at certain times of the month is not a very reliable way to avoid pregnancy.
  • You can get pregnant if you don’t have regular periods.
  • You can even get pregnant during your period!

What doesn’t cause pregnancy? arrow. top

Kissing, hugging, and rubbing clothed bodies don’t cause pregnancy. The only time pregnancy can happen is when sperm can get to an egg. (Read more on how that can happen in the section above.)

Of course, touching, and other kinds of fooling around are pretty personal, and they definitely can affect your feelings and relationships even if they can’t cause pregnancy. Plus, it can be hard to stop before having sex if you’re in the heat of the moment. It’s a good idea to think in advance about what you want and don’t want to do sexually. You can read more about deciding about sex and why waiting makes sense.

The whole sex thing

Feeling pressured? Feeling super attracted to someone? Feeling confused? We have tons of info that can help. Read about talking to your parents about sex, abstinence, birth control, STDs, and much more in our section on your sexuality.

You may have heard lots of rumors about ways to have sex to avoid pregnancy. Make sure you have reliable info. For example, you should know that:

  • A plastic bag or wrap does not work in place of a condom.
  • Jumping up and down after sex does not stop sperm from getting to an egg.
  • Using certain positions during sex does not prevent pregnancy.

Want to learn more? Check out our cool tool on birth control myths. Want to know the surest way to avoid pregnancy? Read all about abstinence.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 30, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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