Can Sperm Go Through Clothes and Get a Woman Pregnant?

Let’s face it: going “all the way” isn’t always the number one choice for couples. Maybe nobody brought a condom or you’re waiting until the relationship gets a bit more solid. Whatever the reason, sometimes things can turn hot and heavy faster than expected, and many couples wonder about the risk of pregnancy if a man ejaculates outside of the vagina, perhaps even getting his and/or her undies wet with semen.

In cases like these, there’s really no cause for panic or concern. While millions of sperm can be ejaculated at a time, the chances of even one of those little guys (or gals) making their way through clothing, all the way into the vagina from the outside world, then making the super long swim through the cervix and uterus way up into the fallopian tube and then finding the woman’s egg to fertilize (which may or may not be there in the first place) is very unlikely. Even though a lot of unintended pregnancies happen, this isn’t the culprit.

Keep in mind we’re NOT talking about withdrawal or pulling out here! Withdrawal is when the man removes his penis right before he cums and then ejaculates outside the woman’s vagina during intercourse. With no other birth control method in use, withdrawal can lead to pregnancy because sperm-filled pre-ejaculate does oftentimes end up directly inside the vagina. About 30 out of every 100 women who rely on this method will be pregnant within a year. Yikes.

So just to wrap things up—and just as a rule of thumb—if semen is ending up on clothing and undies, it’s definitely time to start the pregnancy- and STD-prevention conversation or decide to cool things off for a while if you’re not sure you want to have intercourse quite yet. When you are ready, there are many reliable birth control methods to choose from and lots of clinics and providers where you can get them. There’s also emergency contraception if you end up going further than you anticipated and are worried you’re going to get pregnant. Plus, if you’ve taken the step to get health insurance, remember that contraceptive services are covered with no copay or deductible. Nothing wrong with that.