Pre-ejaculate

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Pre-ejaculate on the glans of a circumcised penis Pre-ejaculate 2014-06-06 07-20.jpg
Pre-ejaculate on the glans of a circumcised penis

Pre-ejaculate (also known as pre-ejaculatory fluid, pre-seminal fluid or Cowper's fluid, and colloquially as pre-cum) is a clear, colorless, viscous fluid that is emitted from the urethra of the penis during sexual arousal. It is similar in composition to semen but has distinct chemical differences. The presence of sperm in the fluid is variable from low to absent. Pre-ejaculate functions as a lubricant and an acid neutralizer.

Contents

Origin and composition

The fluid is discharged from the urethra of the penis during arousal, masturbation, foreplay or at an early stage during sexual intercourse, some time before the individual fully reaches orgasm and semen is ejaculated. It is primarily produced by the bulbourethral glands (Cowper's glands), with the glands of Littré (the mucus-secreting urethral glands) also contributing. [1] [2] The amount of fluid that is issued varies widely among individuals. Some individuals do not produce any pre-ejaculate fluid, [3] while others emit as much as 5  ml (0.18 imp fl oz; 0.17 US fl oz). [1] [4]

Pre-ejaculate fluid contains chemicals associated with semen, such as acid phosphatase, but other semen markers, such as gamma-glutamyltransferase, are absent. [5]

Function and risks

Pre-ejaculate neutralizes residual acidity in the urethra caused by urine, creating a more favorable environment for the passage of sperm. [2] The vagina is normally acidic, so the deposit of pre-ejaculate before the emission of semen may change the vaginal environment to promote sperm survival. [1] Pre-ejaculate also acts as a lubricant during sexual activity, [1] and plays a role in semen coagulation. [1]

Low levels or no sperm exists in pre-ejaculate, although studies examined small samples of men. [4] [6] Two contrary studies found mixed evidence, including individual cases of a high sperm concentration. [7] [8] Popular belief – dating to a 1966 Masters and Johnson study [9]  – stated that pre-ejaculate may contain sperm that can cause pregnancy, which is a common basis of argument against the use of coitus interruptus (withdrawal) as a contraceptive method. However, pre-ejaculate is ineffectual at causing pregnancy. [4] [6]

Studies have demonstrated the presence of HIV in most pre-ejaculate samples from infected men. [6] [10] [11]

Overproduction

In rare cases, an individual may produce an excessive amount of pre-ejaculate fluid that can be a cause of embarrassment or irritation. A few case reports have indicated satisfactory results when such individuals are treated with a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, such as finasteride. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal, pulling out, or the pull-out method, is a method of birth control in which a man, during sexual intercourse, withdraws his penis from a woman's vagina prior to ejaculation and then directs his ejaculate (semen) away from the vagina in an effort to avoid insemination.

Safe sex Ways to reduce the risk of acquiring STDs

Safe sex is sexual activity using methods or devices to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HIV. "Safe sex" is also sometimes referred to as safer sex or protected sex to indicate that some safe sex practices do not completely eliminate STI risks. It is also sometimes used colloquially to describe methods aimed at preventing pregnancy that may or may not also lower STI risks.

Urethra Tube that connects the urinary bladder to the external urethral orifice

The urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the urinary meatus for the removal of urine from the body of both females and males. In human females and other primates, the urethra connects to the urinary meatus above the vagina, whereas in marsupials, the female's urethra empties into the urogenital sinus.

Prostate Gland of the male reproductive system in most mammals

The prostate is both an accessory gland of the male reproductive system and a muscle driven mechanical switch between urination and ejaculation. It is found only in some mammals. It differs between species anatomically, chemically, and physiologically. Anatomically, the prostate is found below the bladder, with the urethra passing through it. It is described in gross anatomy as consisting of lobes, and in microanatomy by zone. It is surrounded by a fibromuscular capsule and contains glandular tissue as well as connective tissue.

Skenes gland

In female human anatomy, Skene's glands or the Skene glands are glands located around the lower end of the urethra. The glands are surrounded by tissue that swells with blood during sexual arousal, and secrete a fluid from openings near the urethra, particularly during orgasm.

Female ejaculation Expulsion of fluid during or before an orgasm

Female ejaculation is characterized as an expulsion of fluid from the Skene's gland at the lower end of the urethra during or before an orgasm. It is also known colloquially as squirting, although research indicates that female ejaculation and squirting are different phenomena, with squirting being attributed to a sudden expulsion of liquid that partly comes from the bladder and contains urine. Female ejaculation is physiologically distinct from coital incontinence, with which it is sometimes confused.

Bulbourethral gland

The bulbourethral gland or Cowper's gland is one of two small exocrine glands in the reproductive system of many male mammals. They are homologous to Bartholin's glands in females. The bulbouretheral glands are responsible for producing a pre-ejaculate fluid called Cowper's Fluid, which is secreted during sexual arousal, neutralizing the acidity of the urethra in preparation for the passage of sperm cells.

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen which would be ejaculated via the urethra is redirected to the urinary bladder. Normally, the sphincter of the bladder contracts before ejaculation, sealing the bladder which besides inhibiting the release of urine also prevents a reflux of seminal fluids into the male bladder during ejaculation. The semen is forced to exit via the urethra, the path of least resistance. When the bladder sphincter does not function properly, retrograde ejaculation may occur. It can also be induced deliberately by a male as a primitive form of male birth control or as part of certain alternative medicine practices. The retrograde-ejaculated semen, which goes into the bladder, is excreted with the next urination.

Seminal vesicles Pair of simple tubular glands posteroinferior to the urinary bladder of male mammals

The seminal vesicles, are a pair of two coiled tubular glands that lie behind the urinary bladder of some male mammals. They secrete fluid that partly composes the semen.

Spermicide is a contraceptive substance that destroys sperm, inserted vaginally prior to intercourse to prevent pregnancy. As a contraceptive, spermicide may be used alone. However, the pregnancy rate experienced by couples using only spermicide is higher than that of couples using other methods. Usually, spermicides are combined with contraceptive barrier methods such as diaphragms, condoms, cervical caps, and sponges. Combined methods are believed to result in lower pregnancy rates than either method alone.

Ejaculatory duct

The ejaculatory ducts are paired structures in male anatomy. Each ejaculatory duct is formed by the union of the vas deferens with the duct of the seminal vesicle. They pass through the prostate, and open into the urethra at the seminal colliculus. During ejaculation, semen passes through the prostate gland, enters the urethra and exits the body via the urinary meatus.

Vaginal lubrication

Vaginal lubrication is a naturally produced fluid that lubricates a woman's vagina. Vaginal lubrication is always present, but production increases significantly near ovulation and during sexual arousal in anticipation of sexual intercourse. Vaginal dryness is the condition in which this lubrication is insufficient, and sometimes artificial lubricants are used to augment it. Without sufficient lubrication, sexual intercourse can be painful. The vaginal lining has no glands, and therefore the vagina must rely on other methods of lubrication. Plasma from vaginal walls due to vascular engorgement is considered to be the chief lubrication source, and the Bartholin's glands, located slightly below and to the left and right of the introitus, also secrete mucus to augment vaginal-wall secretions. Near ovulation, cervical mucus provides additional lubrication.

Personal lubricant

Personal lubricants are specialized lubricants used during human sexual acts such as intercourse and masturbation to reduce friction to or between the penis and vagina, anus or other body parts or applied to sex toys to reduce friction or to ease penetration. Surgical or medical lubricants or gels, which are similar to personal lubricants but not usually referred to or labelled as "personal" lubricants, may be used for medical purposes such as speculum insertion or introduction of a catheter. The primary difference between personal and surgical lubricants is that surgical lubricants are thicker, sterile gels, typically containing a bacteriostatic agent. As of 2015 the personal lubricant market was estimated to be worth at least $400 million.

Human reproductive system

The human reproductive system includes the male reproductive system which functions to produce and deposit sperm; and the female reproductive system which functions to produce egg cells, and to protect and nourish the fetus until birth. Humans have a high level of sexual differentiation. In addition to differences in nearly every reproductive organ, there are numerous differences in typical secondary sex characteristics.

Vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge is a mixture of liquid, cells, and bacteria that lubricate and protect the vagina. This mixture is constantly produced by the cells of the vagina and cervix, and it exits the body through the vaginal opening. The composition, amount, and quality of discharge varies between individuals and can vary throughout the menstrual cycle and throughout the stages of sexual and reproductive development. Normal vaginal discharge may have a thin, watery consistency or a thick, sticky consistency, and it may be clear or white in color. Normal vaginal discharge may be large in volume but typically does not have a strong odor, nor is it typically associated with itching or pain. While most discharge is considered physiologic or represents normal functioning of the body, some changes in discharge can reflect infection or other pathological processes. Infections that may cause changes in vaginal discharge include vaginal yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and sexually transmitted infections. The characteristics of abnormal vaginal discharge vary depending on the cause, but common features include a change in color, a foul odor, and associated symptoms such as itching, burning, pelvic pain, or pain during sexual intercourse.

Non-penetrative sex Sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration

Non-penetrative sex or outercourse is sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration. It generally excludes the penetrative aspects of vaginal, anal, or oral sexual activity, but includes various forms of sexual and non-sexual activity, such as frottage, mutual masturbation, kissing, or cuddling. Some forms of non-penetrative sex, particularly when termed outercourse, include penetrative aspects, such as penetration that may result from forms of fingering or oral sex.

Human penis

The human penis is an external male intromittent organ that additionally serves as the urinal duct. The main parts are the root (radix); the body (corpus); and the epithelium of the penis including the shaft skin and the foreskin (prepuce) covering the glans penis. The body of the penis is made up of three columns of tissue: two corpora cavernosa on the dorsal side and corpus spongiosum between them on the ventral side. The human male urethra passes through the prostate gland, where it is joined by the ejaculatory duct, and then through the penis. The urethra traverses the corpus spongiosum, and its opening, the meatus, lies on the tip of the glans penis. It is a passage both for urination and ejaculation of semen

Semen Organic fluid

Semen, also known as seminal fluid, is an organic fluid created to contain spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals and can fertilize the female ovum. In humans, seminal fluid contains several components besides spermatozoa: proteolytic and other enzymes as well as fructose are elements of seminal fluid which promote the survival of spermatozoa, and provide a medium through which they can move or "swim". Semen is produced and originates from the seminal vesicle, which is located in the pelvis. The process that results in the discharge of semen is called ejaculation. Semen is also a form of genetic material. In animals, semen has been collected for cryoconservation. Cryoconservation of animal genetic resources is a practice that calls for the collection of genetic material in efforts for conservation of a particular breed.

The reproductive system of an organism, also known as the genital system, is the biological system made up of all the anatomical organs involved in sexual reproduction. Many non-living substances such as fluids, hormones, and pheromones are also important accessories to the reproductive system. Unlike most organ systems, the sexes of differentiated species often have significant differences. These differences allow for a combination of genetic material between two individuals, which allows for the possibility of greater genetic fitness of the offspring.

Ejaculation Discharge of semen from the male reproductive tract

Ejaculation is the discharge of semen from the male reproductory tract as a result of an orgasm. It is the final stage and natural objective of male sexual stimulation, and an essential component of natural conception. In rare cases, ejaculation occurs because of prostatic disease. Ejaculation may also occur spontaneously during sleep. Anejaculation is the condition of being unable to ejaculate. Ejaculation is usually very pleasurable for men; dysejaculation is an ejaculation that is painful or uncomfortable. Retrograde ejaculation is the condition where semen travels backwards into the bladder rather than out the urethra.

References

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  2. 1 2 Chughtai B, Sawas A, O'Malley RL, Naik RR, Ali Khan S, Pentyala S (April 2005). "A neglected gland: a review of Cowper's gland". Int. J. Androl. 28 (2): 74–7. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2005.00499.x. PMID   15811067.
  3. Vazquez E (1997). "Is it safe to suck?". Posit Aware. 8 (4): 15. PMID   11364482.
  4. 1 2 3 Zukerman Z.; Weiss D.B.; Orvieto R. (April 2003). "Short Communication: Does Preejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper's Gland Contain Sperm?". Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. 20 (4): 157–159. doi:10.1023/A:1022933320700. PMC   3455634 . PMID   12762415.
  5. Gohara WF (1 February 1980). "Rate of decrease of glutamyltransferase and acid phosphatase activities in the human vagina after coitus". Clinical Chemistry. 26 (2): 254–7. PMID   6101549.
  6. 1 2 3 "Researchers find no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid". Contraceptive Technology Update. 14 (10): 154–156. October 1993. PMID   12286905.
  7. Killick SR, Leary C, Trussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). "Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid". Human Fertility. 14 (1): 48–52. doi:10.3109/14647273.2010.520798. PMC   3564677 . PMID   21155689.
  8. Kovavisarach, E.; Lorthanawanich, S.; Muangsamran, P. (2016). "Presence of Sperm in Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid of Healthy Males". J Med Assoc Thai. 99 Suppl 2: S38–41. ISSN   0125-2208. PMID   27266214.
  9. Masters, W.H. (1966). Johnson, V.E. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 211.
  10. Pudney, J., Oneta, M., Mayer, K., Seage, G., Anderson, D. (1992). "Pre-ejaculatory fluid as potential vector for sexual transmission of HIV-1". Lancet. 340 (8833): 1470. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(92)92659-4. PMID   1360584.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  11. Ilaria, G., Jacobs, J.L., Polsky, B. et al. (1992). "Detection of HIV-1 DNA sequences in pre-ejaculatory fluid". Lancet. 340 (8833): 1469. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(92)92658-3. PMID   1360583.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)