Ah, precum. Those slippery, sweet beads of liquid that drizzle out of the end of an excited cock. But what is it? Does it have a purpose? Our sexpert explains everything you need to know about precum!
Precum, or pre-ejaculate, is a clear, odourless liquid that seeps out of the head of the penis as it gets aroused or ready to ejaculate and serves quite a few different functions. In the most basic and simple terms, however, precum is almost identical to the arousal “wetness” that vaginas produce, and has very similar functions.
Where does precum come from?
Unlike semen, which is stored and released from the testicles, precum is created in a different part of the male reproductive organs, the cowper glands. These are two, small, pea-sized glands situated behind the urethra at the base of the penis, and the liquid itself is very, very similar to ejaculate fluid, although (for the most part) it doesn’t actually contain any sperm.
No sperm no babies right?
Technically yes, precum comes from a completely separate part of the body than semen does, however, because ejaculate, precum and urine all travel out of the body through the same urethral passage, it does not mean it’s 100% safe because the other liquid can “collect” rogue sperm on the way through. Sperm is pretty resilient stuff. It can stay alive inside a vagina for around five days and still fertilise an egg, and, while it doesn’t last quite AS long inside the male urethra, a few different studies (this 2011 study and this 2016 study) have shown live and active sperm present in precum in up to around 37% of subjects!
The same goes for STIs as well, so always make sure you cover up when bodily fluids are coming into contact with other bodily fluids.
A little or a lot?
The amount of precum a penis will produce can vary from a few drops to up to about 5mls, however it’s also absolutely normal to not even notice it at all, and there can be treatments available (usually in the form of hormonal balancing) if you feel you may be producing too much. A few studies have spoken about a small number of men needing medical intervention, but for most people with that concern, doctors have suggested they used a small towel to help wipe it away, and offer reassurance that it is absolutely normal and nothing to be embarrassed about.
What does precum do?
Precum has a few different purposes, but the most important reasons that bodies produce it are again very, very similar to how vaginal lubrication works.
Firstly it works as a way to sort out the pH balances in the male urethra by neutralising the acidity left by urine so that the ensuing sperm has a greater chance of living, and it also acts as a lubricant to help the semen flow faster and smoother.
The slippery properties of precum also help with comfort, ease, and enjoyment of sexual intercourse (but it’s always a good idea to have a bottle of lube on hand too)
Go with the flow
The thing about precum is it is both completely natural and also completely involuntary.
While it is absolutely possible to learn to hold in ejaculate, and even learn how to orgasm without ejaculation at all, the presence of precum is not something that anyone can actually control. While it’s mostly a side effect of arousal, it can sometimes be present without an erection, and just like vaginal lubrication, is not an unspoken sign of consent. Meaning just because your body may react to stimulation (getting erect, getting wet, even orgasming) doesn’t mean it’s all peachy keen. Consent and communication are vital in all sexual play.
Bodies are weird things. They make weird noises and smells, and they leak and drip and can sometimes make a bit of a mess. But that’s the beauty of them too. Embrace them. Enjoy them. And always look after them.
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