If you’re sexually active, you may have asked yourself this once or twice: Can I get pregnant from pre-ejaculatory fluid? To answer this question, you first need to know what pre-ejaculation is and what is it for.

Pre-ejaculate, also referred to as pre-ejaculatory fluid, preseminal fluid, or Cowper’s fluid (colloquially pre-cum), is a fluid that’s released by the Cowper’s glands, two small glands located along the male reproductive/urinary tract. The fluid is clear and typically noticeable at the tip of the penis during an erection, although this isn’t the case for all men. The purpose of the fluid is to help neutralize the acidic environment of the uretha, and also to offer protection to sperm that travel that through.

Pre-seminal fluid does not contain any sperm, meaning the fluid itself cannot get you pregnant. However, if sperm is “left behind” in the urethra from a previous ejaculation, it can come in contact with the fluid. The leftover sperm comes forth to the tip of the penis during arousal, possibly causing some sperm to be carried in this fluid, and into the partner’s body.

This is where pre-seminal fluid and unprotected vaginal sex can lead to pregnancy. Once the sperm in pre-ejaculate enters the vagina, it can fertilize the egg, even if a man pulls out before ejaculation. “The chance of getting pregnant from pre-cum is much less than the chance of getting pregnant from semen, but it still might be possible,” says Planned Parenthood.

A 2011 study found pre-ejaculatory samples could contain motile sperm. Out of 27 male participants, 11 produced preseminal fluid with semen. In 10 of these cases, a reasonable proportion of the sperm was motile. Hence, why condoms should continue to be used as soon as sexual contact is made.

So, can you get pregnant from pre-ejaculate? Yes, but rarely.