It’s a common question for couples trying to conceive: Can you still get pregnant if the sperm comes out after intercourse? We spoke with an expert to learn more. 

By Nicole Harris
Updated August 25, 2020
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When trying to get pregnant, couples start viewing sex in an entirely different light. They might notice, for example, that sperm trickles out after having intercourse. This can be discouraging when the goal is conception, since you're left to wonder, "How is sperm supposed to fertilize my eggs if it’s not making it there?"

In actuality, though, it’s completely normal for sperm to leak out after sex, says Michele Hakakha, M.D., FACOG, an OB-GYN in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411. And it doesn’t affect your chances of getting pregnant. 

To understand this fact, it helps to get a basic run-down of how conception works. “Semen (the stuff that comes out when a man ejaculates) is made up of a lot of different things,” explains Dr. Hakakha. “One of its components is sperm.” Normal male ejaculate contains anywhere from 39 to 928 million sperm, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Just one sperm needs to fertilize your egg for conception to occur.  

It’s true that plenty of ejaculate leaks out after intercourse; there’s not much you can do to prevent this from happening. In fact, it could be a good sign, since it indicates that there’s enough sperm to result in pregnancy.

Some of the sperm will remain in the back of the vagina (the posterior fornix). An even smaller amount makes its way up through the cervix, into the uterus and down the fallopian tubes. Sperm travels quickly, so it begins trekking to the fallopian tubes within minutes. “It’s here, in the fallopian tubes, that the sperm and egg meet,” says Dr. Hakakha. 

A pregnancy could result if the right circumstances are in place—but keep in mind that conception often takes time. Experts recommend visiting a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to conceive for one year with no results. If you’re over 35 years old, the time frame decreases to six months. 

The bottom line: “You don't need to lie in bed with your legs up after intercourse to get pregnant,” says Dr. Hakakha. “The fact that semen is leaking out afterwards doesn't decrease your chances of conceiving.”

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