Can You Get Pregnant Without Having Sex?

Yes, you can get pregnant—accidentally or intentionally—without having sex

Couple looking at pregnancy test

Verywell / Alison Czinkota

Yes, you can get pregnant without having sexual intercourse. While semen should be as close to the cervix as possible to get pregnant (as it would be after vaginal intercourse), you can conceive as long as semen gets anywhere near the vagina or vaginal opening.

This may occur if ejaculation happens outside the vagina, or if semen gets on someone's fingers and then they place them near or inside the vagina. Pregnancy may also occur without ejaculation if the erect penis comes into contact with the vaginal area.

A small amount of semen—just a drop or two—is excreted at the start of an erection. This occurs before actual ejaculation and is sometimes called pre-ejaculate.

While pregnancy without intercourse is possible, you can't get pregnant from a toilet seat, swimming in a public pool, using a hot tub, or bathing in any other body of water.

Getting Pregnant Without Sex

While some people worry about getting pregnant without having sex, others have difficulty with intercourse but still want to get pregnant. People who suffer from pain during sex may not be able to have sex frequently enough to get pregnant.

Conditions like vaginismus and vulvodynia can make intercourse extremely uncomfortable or even painfully impossible. If you’re suffering from pain during sex, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Pain during sex can be caused by a number of conditions, some of which can harm fertility.

There are treatments available, and they are worth trying. However, let’s say you have already tried treatments, but they haven’t been successful at relieving your pain.

Or, maybe treatment is going slowly, and you don’t want to wait until you can tolerate sexual intercourse to start trying to conceive. Or, perhaps, you can't bring yourself to talk to a healthcare provider about the pain. You have some options.

Splash Pregnancy

Couples that can’t have sexual intercourse still can have sex. Sex is defined as more than just vaginal intercourse. One possible way for a cis/hetero couple to get pregnant without intercourse is to stimulate the penis to ejaculate as close to the vaginal opening as possible.

The conception that occurs due to semen reaching the outer vaginal area (accidentally or intentionally) without intercourse is sometimes called a “splash pregnancy” or "virgin pregnancy."

As long as some semen makes its way to the vulva or vaginal areas, you have a chance of getting pregnant. If ejaculation can occur slightly inside of the vagina, that’s even better.

It's not clear how likely it is that conception will happen. Some studies of women with lifelong vaginismus have found that some had a child this way. But there are no studies looking at the odds of using this method to get pregnant.

They are certainly much lower when compared to more typical penis-in-vagina intercourse. If you’re going to try this, make sure you take all other measures to increase your odds of getting pregnant. You’ll want to:

IUI and Other Forms of Insemination

Another option is artificial insemination. Artificial insemination is when semen is collected and then transferred into either the vaginal canal, into the cervix, or into the uterus.

IUI, intrauterine insemination, is the most commonly used method because it has the best success rate. While IUI usually includes treatment with fertility drugs, this is not required.

Keep in mind when looking at success rates for IUI that these studies primarily look at couples with fertility problems. If your only difficulty in conceiving is pain during sex or being LGBTQ, and there are no additional fertility issues (and the pain is not caused by a condition negatively affecting your fertility), your success rates may be higher.

Artificial insemination is difficult for someone who cannot tolerate any penetration; IUI requires the placement of a gynecological speculum. There may also be slight cramping upon insertion of the catheter. However, for those who only experience pain with penile penetration or thrusting, IUI could be an option.

At-Home Insemination

Another possible option is at-home insemination—the so-called “turkey baster” method. This method can be risky if done improperly, but it is a path many couples in this situation take.

At-home insemination requires a sterile, dry cup to collect semen. Also, you need a sterile, needle-less syringe, like the ones used to measure out liquid oral medications. Before you try this method:

  • Speak to a healthcare provider first to learn how to do this safely.
  • Avoid injecting or transferring semen into the cervix or uterus. This is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. Insemination via the cervix or uterus requires special treatment of the semen and can only be performed by a fertility clinic. You can also seriously injure yourself. At-home insemination can only be vaginal.
  • Make absolutely sure that the syringe has no pockets of air before you suck up the semen and before you inseminate. Introducing air into the vagina can lead to a fatal embolism.
  • Remember sexually transmitted infections can still be transferred via insemination. This method does not remove or lower the risk of STIs.
  • Make sure everything you use is brand-new, clean, and completely dry—from the cup to the needle-less syringe. Only use fertility-friendly lubricants, if needed.
  • Beware of at-home insemination kits for sale online. Some of these kits contain dangerous instructions or supplies. For example, some contain instructions for doing intrauterine insemination, which you should never attempt at home.

Word of Caution

At-home insemination, if done improperly, can lead to infection and injury. The information here should not be considered medical advice. Proceed at your own risk.

Legal Precautions

Do not attempt at-home insemination with a sperm donor, whether known or unknown. In many areas, insemination that does not occur with a medical professional will not be recognized in court.

In other words, even if you have a written and signed contract, the sperm donor can legally insist on parental rights, and the parent who delivers the child may legally be able to pursue child support payments from the donor.

If you’re doing this with someone besides your legally married partner, consult with a reproductive lawyer first. The information provided here should not be considered legal advice. Proceed at your own risk.

A Word From Verywell

For those that want to conceive without sexual intercourse: While it may be possible to conceive without penile penetration, the best alternative options are either expensive and invasive (as with IUI) or unlikely (as with ejaculation outside the vagina).

The best thing to do? Seek treatment for the sexual pain itself. Speak to your gynecologist for options and resources. Sex shouldn’t be painful, and you don’t have to suffer. If one doctor can’t help, go to another. Keep looking until you find someone who can help you.

If you think that you got pregnant without having sex, know that it is possible to get pregnant as long as semen gets near the vaginal or vulva area, though it's unlikely. Use contraception if you want to avoid pregnancy, even if you aren't having penetrative intercourse.

7 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. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When sex is painful.

  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your sexual health.

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  5. Stewart J, Panchap L, Spandorfer S. Clomiphene citrate and intrauterine insemination: Analysis of 1,531 cycles by time trying to conceive. Obstet Gynecol. 2018;131:20S-21S. doi:10.1097/01.aog.0000532908.95321.79

  6. Bahadur G, Homburg R. Growing body of evidence supports intrauterine insemination as first line treatment and rejects unfounded concerns about its efficacy, risks and cost effectiveness. JBRA Assist Reprod. 2019;23(1):62-67. doi:10.5935/1518-0557.20180073

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Additional Reading

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.