There are a lot of fluids involved in sex, and while most are completely natural, many people don’t know how to feel about them.

Precum is one fluid that can leave a lot of people guessing. It’s not quite semen, but does that mean it’s dangerous?

In this blog, we’ll review what precum is, what it’s supposed to do, whether precum is dangerous, and anything you can do to protect yourself.

What is precum?

Precum, sometimes called pre-ejaculate, is a clear fluid that comes out of the tip of the penis when the male is aroused, or just before orgasm. The fluid is created by the Cowper’s glands – pea-sized glands behind the penis.

Precum can look like semen and has a similar consistency and texture. However, their functions are completely different.

What does precum do?

While the purpose of semen is to carry sperm into the vagina to inseminate the female’s egg, the purpose of precum is to aid this process.

Precum primarily functions as a lubricant that facilitates the insertion of the penis into the vagina, similar to the function of vaginal fluids.

Precum also helps protect semen and sperm before their journey through the urethra and into the vagina. Sperm cells can be damaged or killed if they come in contact with urine. Since both urine and ejaculate travel through the urethra, sperm can be negatively affected by the acid levels. Precum helps clear the urethra of any urine and neutralises alkaline levels in the urethra, allowing semen and sperm to travel through it safely.

How much precum is normal?

It’s best not to think of what’s “normal” in sex. Everyone is different. However, it can be useful to think of averages.

On average, most males will secrete around 4 millilitres of precum during arousal and stimulation. There is no way to control how much or little precum a person produces.

Can I get pregnant from precum?

Probably not, but it’s not impossible.

In order to get pregnant, sperm has to travel into the vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterus and fallopian tubes. While precum does not usually contain any sperm, if precum flows through a male’s urethra soon after they have ejaculated, it’s possible that the precum could carry any residual sperm from the urethra into the vagina.

Can I get an STI from precum?

Precum can carry infections and viruses that cause STIs. That’s why it’s important to practice safe sex, even if you’re not worried about getting pregnant.

STIs you can get from precum include:


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that targets and weakens the immune system. If left untreated, HIV infection can progress to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a condition characterised by a compromised ability to combat infections and diseases, ultimately resulting in life-threatening complications. However, timely treatment for those who are HIV-positive can lead to a healthy life with a normal life expectancy.


Chlamydia is an STI caused by a bacterial infection that can affect different areas of the body in both males and females. This includes the penis, vagina, anus, and throat.


Gonorrhoea, sometimes known as “the clap,” is a very contagious STI. It is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This infection can be transmitted through sexual activity, even without ejaculation. It can reside in the throat, rectum, penis, semen, and vagina.


Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that commonly infects the genitals, urinary tracts, and rectums of both men and women. It is estimated that around 2% of all adults are affected by the Mycoplasma genitalium bacteria. While Mycoplasma is classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it has also been detected in the normal, healthy genital tracts of individuals.


Trichomonas, also known as Trichomoniasis or ‘Trich’, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasitic protozoan called Trichomonas vaginalis. In women, Trichomonas infects the vagina and urethra, while in men, it affects the urethra, head of the penis, and prostate gland.

HPV and Genital Warts

Genital Warts are a prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. They are caused by specific strains of viruses known as human papillomavirus (HPV). With over 140 types of HPV, some are associated with the development of cancer in the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and anus. It is essential to be aware of these facts to understand the significance of this STI.

There are two categories of sexually transmitted HPVs:

Low-risk HPVs do not cause cancer but can result in skin warts on or around the genital area or anus. Genital Warts are predominantly caused by types 6 and 11. At Better2Know, we provide tests for 9 types of low-risk HPV.

High-risk HPVs have the potential to cause cancer. Over fourteen high-risk HPV types have been identified, with types 16 and 18 responsible for most HPV-related cancers. Better2Know offers tests for 19 high-risk HPV types.


Herpes is a highly contagious infection caused by two closely related viruses: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1, also known as Oral Herpes, is more prevalent than HSV-2 and typically leads to the development of blisters or cold sores, especially around the mouth and lips. On the other hand, HSV-2, or Genital Herpes, manifests as sores primarily around the genitals or rectum. While HSV-2 infections can occasionally occur through oral sex, they more commonly occur in the genital area.

Final thoughts

If you’ve had a recent sexual encounter you’re concerned about, or if you think you’ve been exposed to an STI, you should get tested.

Better2Know’s trained Sexual Health Advisors can help you choose an STI test and clinic that’s right for you.

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