How to Get Pregnant Without Sexual Intercourse

How you can get pregnant—accidentally or intentionally—without having sex

Couple standing in fornt of bed embracing
Don't let sexual pain stop you from having a child. Talk to your doctor about your options. Roy McMahon / Getty Images

You can get pregnant without having sexual intercourse. While ideally, semen should be deposited 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 a man ejaculates outside the vagina, or it can occur if semen gets on someone's fingers and those fingers are placed near or inside the vagina. Pregnancy may also occur if the erect penis comes into contact with the vaginal area, even before ejaculation. A small amount of semen—just a drop or two—is excreted when a man gets an erection. This occurs before actual ejaculation and is sometimes called pre-ejaculate.

While some women worry they got pregnant without having sex, others want to know how to get pregnant without sexual intercourse. Women 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. Ideally, if you’re suffering from pain during sex, you should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Pain during sex can be caused by a number of conditions, some of which can harm your fertility.

There are treatments available, and they are worth trying. However, let’s say you already spoke to your doctor and 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 your doctor about the pain.

Is there a way you can still get pregnant? There are some options.

“Splash Pregnancy” — or Conceiving via Ejaculation Outside of the Vagina

This is a good place to mention that couples that can’t have sexual intercourse still can have sex. Sex is defined as more than just vaginal intercourse. One possible way to get pregnant without intercourse is to have the man 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.” 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.

How likely it is that you’ll conceive is questionable. Some studies discuss women suffering from lifelong vaginismus having a child this way. With that said, there are no studies looking at the odds of using this method to get pregnant. They are certainly much lower when compared to couples having more typical sexual intercourse.

If you’re going to give it a try, 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 for couples unable to have sexual intercourse is to consider 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 usually, IUI 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, 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 wouldn’t be very helpful to someone who cannot tolerate any penetration. IUI requires the placement of a gynecological speculum. There may also be slightly 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 aka “The Turkey Baster” Method

Another possible option is at-home insemination — the so-called “turkey baster” method. This method can be risky if done improperly (see below why), but it is a path many couples in this situation take. At-home insemination requires a sterile, dry cup to collect the semen. Also, you need a sterile needleless syringe, like the ones used to measure out liquid oral medications.

Extremely important notes of caution if you plan to try this method:

  • Speak to your doctor first before attempting at-home insemination. They can tell you how to do this safely.
  • Never attempt to inject or transfer 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 needleless 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 air embolism.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases are still transferred to a woman via insemination. This method does not remove or lower the risk of STDs.
  • Make sure everything is used — from the cup to the needleless syringe — is brand new, clean, and completely dry. Only use fertility friendly lubricants, if needed.
  • There are some at-home insemination kits for sale online. Buyer beware, as 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.)
  • 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.

And, some 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 as a donor-conceived child. In other words, even if you have a written and signed contract, the sperm donor can legally insist on parental rights, and the mother may legally be able to attain child 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.

For those that are afraid they got pregnant without having sex: It is possible as long as semen gets near the vaginal or vulva area, though it's unlikely. Because of pre-ejaculate, it's also possible to get pregnant if an erect penis comes in contact with the vaginal opening or vulva. Note, however, that you can't get pregnant from a toilet seat, and you can't get pregnant from swimming in a public pool, using a hot tub, or bathing in any other body of water.

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