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How Can You Get Pregnant?

Lissa Rankin's picture

How Can You Get Pregnant?

Once your parents teach you about the birds and the bees, you know you get pregnant by having sex, right? But what if it’s not that simple?

The fact that 24 million people search the question “How can you get pregnant?” leads me to believe there are a few people out there who would like someone to get more specific.

If you’re looking for how to get pregnant, read this post. This post here is not really about getting pregnant. It’s about how NOT to get pregnant when you’re trying to avoid it, in other words - how to prevent pregnancy.  I was once a teenage girl wigging out about whether my high school boyfriend could knock me up by getting excited in the hot tub while sitting next to me. (Sperm can swim, right?)  And now I’m an OB/GYN physician who knows the answers, so I want to share them with you.

How Can You Get Pregnant

1.     Sexual intercourse with ejaculation - Not to be graphic, but if a penis is inside a vagina and ejaculation occurs when you’re not using birth control, that’s a really freakin’ good way to get pregnant, especially if it’s approximately 14 days after the first day of a woman’s last period.

2.     Sexual intercourse without ejaculation - If a guy sticks his penis inside the girl’s vagina but pulls out before ejaculation, she can still get pregnant. The pre-cum that can seep out of the tip of the penis is still loaded with little spermy dudes that can absolutely result in pregnancy. So if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, put a condom on the penis before entering the vagina (which is good for sexually transmitted disease prevention anyway). Or use some other form of birth control, like the birth control pill, patch, ring, or the Depo-Provera shot.

3.     Ejaculation around - but not in - the vagina - If you’re fooling around but not technically putting a penis inside a vagina, you can still get pregnant, even if you haven’t had sexual intercourse. If a guy’s penis is rubbing a girl’s vulva - outside to outside - and then he gets off, leaving some of his junk right at the opening of the girl’s vagina, she can still get pregnant. Remember, sperm swim. So enterprising young sperm can work their way from the opening of her vagina up inside the vagina, where they can knock her up.

4.     Getting sperm on your hands and putting them in the vagina - If a woman is servicing her man manually and her hands get covered with sperm, she could theoretically get pregnant by putting those semen-covered hands inside her vagina. If you’re worried about getting pregnant, either wash your hands before touching your vulva or vagina - or keep your pants on to keep sperm out.

5.     Having sex with a condom - Condoms break. They slide off. People put them on incorrectly.  Condoms are only about 85% effective, so keep in mind that you can still get knocked up. If you’re really worried about getting pregnant, use a more effective form of birth control, in addition to using a condom to protect you from STD’s.

6.     Anal sex. Although it’s very hard to conceive during anal sex, it’s theoretically possible because semen can drip out of the anus and into the vagina. So don’t count on anal sex as guaranteed birth control.

How You Can’t Get Pregnant

1.     Ejaculating in a body of water without sexual intercourse. If you get turned on - or even ejaculate - because your girlfriend is skipping around the pool, hot tub, lake or ocean in a string bikini, don’t worry. Once the sperm hit the water, they die. So no need to freak out.

2.     Ejaculating on a toilet seat she sits on. What if a girl sits on a toilet seat right after a guy jacks off? Can she get pregnant? Nope. Sperm can’t survive on a toilet seat.

3.     Ejaculating far from the vagina. If a dude jizzes on a woman’s belly and none of his junk gets anywhere near her vagina, it would be a miracle if she got pregnant.

4.     Oral sex. Swallowing sperm cannot impregnate a woman. No way. No how.

5.     Kissing. Swapping spit cannot get you pregnant. Ever. So don’t listen to any nun who tells you it can happen.

6.     Gay or lesbian sex. Yes, gays and lesbians have babies, but they always have to import the missing sperm or egg. So two guys getting it on - or two women going down on each other - cannot get pregnant unless they try to.

So there you go. There you have it. You can take a deep breath now…

Remember, if something happens and you weren’t prepared, you don’t have to wait until she gets her period - or not. You can use emergency contraception like Plan B (Read this for more information about emergency contraception). Better safe than sorry, right?

Still have questions, love? Don’t be shy. Post a question in the comments - even if you post anonymously -and ask me anything!

Committed to helping you choose when to become a parent,

Lissa Rankin, MD

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.



Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you

Dear Mohon,
So glad it was helpful!

Lissa Rankin's picture


Dear Anonymous,
That would be unlikely to result in a pregnancy, since sperm and egg generally last for about 48 hours and day 8 of a 29 day cycle would be very unlikely. Plus- if a condom was used and no ejaculation happened, it would be even more unlikely. If in doubt, use emergency contraception if you're trying to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, but it sounds like you're probably safe :)

Anonymous's picture

thank you so much i really

thank you so much i really apperciate it

Anonymous's picture

pregnancy question

I was just wondering what the chance of becoming pregnant on day 6 of a cycle if your normal cycle is 29 days? also if a condom was used and no ejaculation at all happened. i would apperciate any feed back thank so much

mohon's picture


The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

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