Can You Get Pregnant From Anal Sex?

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Anal sex is more popular than ever among heterosexual couples. Whether it is already part of your sexual repertoire or something you’re considering experimenting with, you might have wondered whether it’s possible to get pregnant from anal intercourse.

The short answer is that it is highly unlikely to get pregnant from anal sex alone. However, doctors warn that unprotected anal intercourse should never be relied upon as a form of contraception. We turned to the experts to find out more about pregnancy from anal sex, and why birth control is still important.

Can Anal Sex Lead to Pregnancy?

When unprotected vaginal intercourse occurs between heterosexual couples, semen is released at the point of male ejaculation close to the cervix. Vaginal penetrative sex gives healthy, fertile couples the best chance of conceiving.  

During anal intercourse, the penis penetrates the anal passage. At the point of male ejaculation during unprotected anal sex, semen might be deposited in the anus. “I certainly can say that if 100% of the ejaculate from the man went into the anus, the woman would not conceive,” explains Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine. This is because the anus is not connected to any of the reproductive organs.

That said, should any semen enter the vagina at any point during sex, it is possible to become pregnant. This is because semen that enters the vagina can potentially travel to the cervix, into the uterus, and then on to fertilize the egg.

“With anal sex, it is possible that some of the ejaculate wouldn't be deposited exclusively into the anus, and that some could make its way into the vagina," explains Dr. Minkin. "So a pregnancy in that situation is not fully impossible.” For this reason, unprotected anal sex should not be used as a birth control method.

Additionally, sex that begins as vaginal penetrative sex and then moves on to the anus can leave you at risk of both pregnancy and the spread of infection. This is because, although unlikely, it is possible to become pregnant from pre-ejaculate, which is the small amount of liquid that is produced at the beginning of an erection. Meanwhile, swapping between anal and vaginal penetrative sex can spread bacteria, so it is important to use fresh protection if switching between the two.

For sufferers of a rare condition called cloacal malformation, conception through anal sex is possible. With this condition, which affects approximately one in 50,000 females, the rectum, vagina, and urinary tract passages are all fused together, resulting in one single channel. This means that semen that enters the anus can easily reach the uterus, resulting in pregnancy. However, cloacal malformation is usually identified and treated at birth.

Unprotected Anal Sex and STIs

Not only is unprotected anal sex an inadequate contraceptive method, it can also leave you vulnerable to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Statistically, you are more than twice as likely to obtain an STI through unprotected anal sex than through unprotected vaginal sex. This is because the lining of the anus is thin and not designed to fight infection, unlike the lining of the vagina. Without lubricant, the lining of the anus can also tear easily, leaving you even more susceptible to the spread of infection.

“One thing to remember is that even if anal sex is much less likely to get you pregnant, it is a very easy way to spread sexually transmitted infections," explains Dr. Minkin. "So in any non-monogamous sexual relationship, the couple should always use condoms for anal sex to help minimize the risk of STI spread."

A Word From Verywell

Although it is unlikely to conceive via anal sex, it is entirely possible. This is because it only takes a tiny amount of semen to reach the vagina for conception to occur.

However, regardless of whether you are hoping to become pregnant or not, unprotected anal sex can spread STIs and other infections, so it is always recommended that you use a condom. As always, if you find yourself with questions or concerns, be sure to reach out to your OB/GYN or healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Planned Parenthood. How effective is pulling out?

  3. Wood RJ, Reck-Burneo CA, Levitt MA. Cloacal malformations: technical aspects of the reconstruction and factors which predict surgical complexity. Front Pediatr. 2019;0. doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00240

  4. Jenness SM, Begier EM, Neaigus A, Murrill CS, Wendel T, Hagan H. Unprotected anal intercourse and sexually transmitted diseases in high-risk heterosexual women. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(4):745-750. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.181883

By Nicola Appleton
Nicola Appleton is a UK-based freelance journalist with a special interest in parenting, pregnancy, and women's lifestyle. She has extensive experience creating editorial and commercial content for print, digital, and social platforms across a number of prominent British and international brands including The Independent, Refinery29, The Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPost, Stylist, Canva, and more