The more questions we get from our readers under 21, the more we realize that misconceptions about sex abound. One thing that confuses so many teenagers is whether or not a person can get pregnant by a variety of means – with clothes on, while wearing a tampon, while taking birth control, or during a woman’s period.
In order for a pregnancy to occur, there must be male genital (or sperm) to female genital contact – close to or inside, the vaginal opening. Sexual intercourse does not have to occur in order to get pregnant and although not a common occurrence, there does not have to be an ejaculation of sperm. Fluid that is seen on the top of the penis when erect is known as pre-ejaculate fluid and can contain sperm. This has the potential to impregnate a woman, even without ejaculation.
It is possible to get pregnant at any time of the month – there is no one hundred percent "safe time" for women, especially for those with unpredictable cycles. While a woman needs to ovulate (release an egg) to get pregnant, she may ovulate at different times of the month and therefore risk pregnancy at any given time. Sperm can live for several days in a woman, thus making pregnancy a possibility several days after having sex or even after having sex during her period, if she ovulates early in her cycle.
As strange as it may seem, many teenagers are worried about getting pregnant without having any "real" sex at all. A woman cannot get pregnant from what’s commonly called “dry humping” or outercourse. This is when the motions of sex are mimicked but there is no genital contact and generally, clothing is worn. Anal sex cannot cause pregnancy unless sperm finds contact with the vaginal area and it is impossible to get pregnant by performing oral sex and swallowing sperm. Kissing, making out and touching outside clothes cannot get a woman pregnant. There must always be sperm and always some form of genital contact. This behavior is not considered “dry humping”. Abstinence is the only guaranteed way to not get pregnant.
Birth control options like the Pill and condom are very effective (up to 98-99 percent) when used exactly as directed, although there are many more options like birth control shots, sponges, spermicidal inserts/foams, patches, natural planning (the ‘rhythm method’) and sterilization.
For more information on Outercourse, read this great article from one of our HerWriters, Alison Beaver: http://www.empowher.com/community/share/outercourse-dry-humping-dry-sex-and-other-sexual-behaviors