Even though you can’t get pregnant from anal itself, it’s still possible that sperm can enter your vagina by another means and cause pregnancy (say what?).
All genders, identities, and sexual orientations can enjoy anal play (which can involve a penis, dildo, other sex toys, or fingers… get creative). But, when it comes to the possibility of pregnancy, we’re talking about penis to anus located near a vagina. No one has magic baby-making fingers.
Going through the backdoor is a pretty common item on the sexual menu for women. One study, found more than a third of U.S. women said they’d had anal with a male partner in the past 3 months. Another study found that 13 percent of women had anal in the past 12 months, while 36 percent of women had done so in their lifetime.
These stats may vary (and depend pretty heavily on self-reporting), but one thing is certain: People are out there plundering the booty. So here’s what you need to know when it comes to pregnancy risk and anal sex.
No, you can’t get pregnant from anal sex directly. The vagina and the anus are neighbors, but they aren’t connected.
The big “IF” comes from unprotected anal sex when sperm spills outside of the vulva and makes its way inside the vagina by various means. According to Planned Parenthood, this is unlikely but totally possible.
There are a few, low risk possibilities to get pregnant via anal:
- During unprotected anal sex, the ejaculate might spill out of the anus and leak onto the vulva. The semen would then have to get from the vulva (outside) to the vagina (inside).
- During protected anal sex, the condom breaks and the semen drips on the vulva, making its way into vagina.
- Before or after unprotected anal sex, the penis ejaculates close to the vagina and it drips/leaks into the vulva. Again, the semen would have to make its way inside the vagina.
With any of these scenarios, it’s unlikely the semen would find a way into the vagina without being brought there by something with semen on it (like fingers, toys, or a penis).
Again, all these scenarios are very unlikely. One study of U.S. women found that 0.5 percent of women self-reported a “virgin pregnancy,” or pregnancy without vaginal intercourse.
In these scenarios, it’s possible semen made its way into the vagina one of the ways we just described — or that the self-reporting wasn’t totally honest.
Baby making 101
Let’s recap how natural conception works real quick.
During a typical menstrual cycle, an ovary releases an egg that travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. If a penis ejaculates inside the vagina, sperm make their way through the cervix to meet the egg.
Even if there is no P-in-V intercourse, there’s a chance sperm can make its way into the vagina if sperm enters the vaginal opening (from toys, fingers, etc.). It doesn’t have to be a penis that transports sperm into the vagina.
Since sperm can live up to 5 days in the vagina, the meet-up might not happen immediately. But, sperm has to fertilize an egg, and that fertilized egg has to implant inside the uterus for pregnancy to happen.
Natural pregnancy isn’t possible if sperm doesn’t get inside the vagina. However, sperm reaching the vagina isn’t always a necessity for pregnancy to occur. For example, in other conception methods such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), the egg is already fertilized and transferred directly to the uterus.
It’s a good idea to wear condoms during anal sex — and for reasons that go beyond a (pretty low) risk of pregnancy. Practicing anal carries higher risks for tears, injuries, and infections.
There’s always a risk the person receiving can get tears in the skin around the anus (ouch). These tears not only hurt but can also make you vulnerable to STIs and infections.
STIs and injury are actually more likely during unprotected anal sex than vaginal sex. In fact, anal is the highest risk sexual behavior for an HIV-negative person to contract the virus. So please, please, wrap it up!
Using plenty of lube can also help prevent tearing and bleeding, but it might also increase your risk of infection. And, if you’re using lube and a condom, make sure you avoid anything oil-based, as it can affect the integrity of the condom.
If STIs aren’t a concern for you and your partner, lube can still help make things more comfortable — but be sure not to bounce straight from anal to vaginal sex. Any feces in the vaginal area is a one-way ticket to infections like UTIs.
Semen or ejaculate (or whatever you want to call it) is that white, sticky baby-making liquid that comes out of a penis after an orgasm. And it’s typically filled with millions of sperm.
Precum (aka pre-ejaculate) as the name suggests, comes out of the penis before cum and is a clear fluid that acts as a natural lubricant (thanks, Mother Nature). It doesn’t contain sperm. But that doesn’t rule out sperm entering precum (wait, not again!).
Sperm can leak into precum (since it’s all coming out of the same tube, aka the urethra). A precum sperm-gate can get you pregnant. In fact, one study found that 11 out of 27 participants had sperm in their pre-ejaculate.
So, if your sexual partner(s) are using the pull-out method in the vagina and “finishing” in the back door, you can technically still get pregnant.
Kissing, caressing, licking, massaging, spanking, and their like are unlikely to cause pregnancy. During foreplay, keep any precum or ejaculate away from the vulva, and there’s zero chance you’ll get pregnant.
No, you can’t get pregnant from oral sex alone.
The only potential risk would be if sperm on the lips or mouth gets inside the vulva. If you’re concerned there’s sperm on your partner before they go downtown, have them wash it off first!
What if you’re the one performing the oral?
No, you can’t get pregnant from swallowing semen, either.
The uterus and the stomach are not connected. But you can contract STIs from oral sex, including from swallowing semen. Make sure you know your partner’s status before engaging in oral, or use protection!
No, you can’t get pregnant from being fingered alone.
The only potential risk would be if sperm on the fingers gets inside the vagina. If your partner has recently masturbated and sperm might be present, have them wash up after the act (not just wipe their hands off).
No, you can’t get pregnant from using a sex toy alone. The only potential risk would be if there’s sperm on the sex toy and it enters the vagina (seeing a pattern, here?). Again: no sperm, no problem.
Keep your toys clean (which you should be doing anyway), and you’re good.
Douching doesn’t prevent pregnancy and won’t work as birth control. And, honestly, douching your vag isn’t the best idea in the first place. It can throw the delicate pH balance of the vagina out of whack and can lead to bacterial vaginosis, vaginal irritation, and other hella uncomfortable conditions.
If sperm got into the vagina accidentally, follow these tips and consider if you should also use emergency contraception like Plan B, a copper IUD, or Ella.
Other methods to help prevent pregnancy
Pregnancy is always possible when it comes to P-in-V sex or any type of sexual activity where sperm is near the V.
If you’re trying to avoid a bébé in 9 months, you have options for birth control beyond the pull-out method, including:
- condoms or other barrier methods like a diaphragm, cervical cap, or sponge
- hormonal birth control like the pill, patch, implant, vaginal ring, or injections
- intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- sterilization like tubal ligation or vasectomy
- fertility awareness method (FAM) and symptothermal method
If you have a uterus, you can’t get pregnant from anal sex alone.
There’s a remote risk that sperm could travel into the vagina from a sex toy, fingers, or a partner’s mouth (in which case, you could get pregnant). However, this is very unlikely.
Pre-ejaculate, sometimes has sperm in it. Therefore, starting sex in the vagina (but ejaculating in the anus) won’t necessarily prevent pregnancy.
Always use condoms during anal sex to prevent the spread of STIs. And use lots (and lots) of lube to prevent tearing.