AA: Thanks so much for asking about different situations in which pregnancy can occur. Speaking really broadly, pregnancy can occur entirely accidentally or through a more intentional process.
LM: At its most basic, pregnancy happens when a sperm fertilizes an egg and the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. There is a window of a few days during the menstrual cycle when an egg is receptive to fertilization, so if a sperm reaches the egg in this timeframe, pregnancy is likely to occur. However, sperm can also hang around in the uterus and fallopian tubes for up to 6 days, so there is a fairly broad window in which fertilization can physically occur.
AA: Regarding the example that you mentioned in your question, generally pre-cum does not contain sperm but there have been some rarer cases of pre-cum containing some sperm. Because of this, if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, the withdrawal method should not be used as a form of contraception. There are many more effective strategies, which we will go into detail about next week.
LM: For those who are trying to get pregnant, the process may range from tracking ovulation to looking for a sperm or egg donor to using in-vitro fertilization. Surrogacy is also an option, although there have been a number of conversations in the public discourse about the ways in which this process, when not done carefully, can offload labor and potential physical complications onto already marginalized or at-risk female-bodied people.
AA: While historically our understandings of pregnancy through the medical model have characterized the egg as passive and the sperm as active, there is new research that indicates that the egg may play a much more active role in the process of fertilization and implantation.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing a series of questions surrounding various facets of pregnancy, so stay tuned!
Amanda Ayers, Health Educator