Is it true that the girl can’t get pregnant if the guy masturbates before sex?

Masturbation can be a fun, safe, and healthy way to explore your sexuality—but it is NOT birth control.

For any readers who aren’t familiar with the word, masturbation is when someone touches themselves for sexual pleasure, often to the point of orgasm (or coming). This can include ejaculation. For people with penises, ejaculation is when semen (also called ejaculate or come) is pushed out from the penis. Semen can contain up to 500 million sperm (the cells that can fertilize an egg that may lead to a pregnancy).

For a day or so after ejaculation, the semen may contain fewer sperm. But that’s still A LOT of sperm, and it only takes one to fertilize an egg. This is why masturbating before penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex will NOT prevent pregnancy.

In addition, testes continually produce sperm during the reproductive years, so they won’t just “run out” if you ejaculate a lot.

If you’re having or thinking of having PIV sex, you or your partner can use the birth control pill, intrauterine device (IUD), implant, or another reliable form of contraception to help prevent pregnancy. Remember, though, that only barrier methods like condoms can prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can take care of your sexual health by getting regularly tested for STIs and talking about STI testing with your partner.

If you’re 10-22 years old and live in NYC, you can get completely free, confidential birth control, STI testing and treatment, and other health care services at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. If not, many family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood also offer free or low-cost reproductive health services.