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Yes, it’s possible to become pregnant whenever a penis enters a vagina — even if it’s just the tip. Although pregnancy isn’t very likely in this scenario, it can happen.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What matters isn’t how much of the penis went into the vagina, but whether any semen went into the vagina.

If there’s any semen on a penis and that penis goes into a vagina, there’s a possibility of pregnancy.

Semen might be on the penis if the person ejaculated recently. There might also be pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) on the penis tip — and yes, you can get pregnant from pre-cum because it could contain sperm.

Certain factors, like the absence of birth control, may make pregnancy more likely.

While no contraceptive method is foolproof, pregnancy is far less likely if you used a condom or another form of birth control, such as the pill or an IUD.

What do you do if just the tip goes into the vagina, and you’re worried about becoming pregnant?

Your first move is to take an emergency contraceptive. The next is to take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if necessary.

Take emergency contraception

An emergency contraception (EC) pill, also known as the morning-after pill, can prevent pregnancy even after sex.

EC pills like Plan B are available over the counter at pharmacies and should be taken as soon as possible.

Plan B works by preventing or delaying ovulation. Research from 2015 suggests it also might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, although there’s no evidence proving it can do this.

Plan B isn’t as effective at preventing pregnancy as other forms of contraception, such as the pill, IUDs, and condoms. However, it’s still fairly effective.

According to Plan B’s manufacturers, it’s:

  • 95 percent effective when taken within 24 hours of sex
  • 61 percent effective when taken between 48 and 72 hours after sex

That being said, it’s worth noting that Plan B might be less effective if you have a body mass index over 25, according to recent studies. That’s not to say it won’t work; just that it might be less likely to work.

Another form of emergency contraception is a copper IUD, an effective form of birth control. It must be placed by a doctor or other healthcare provider within 5 days of the encounter.

Assess your HIV risk and take PEP

Pregnancy aside, it’s a good idea to consider whether you could’ve been exposed to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

PEP is an antiretroviral treatment used to protect against the transmission of HIV. It should be taken within 72 hours of potential exposure — the sooner, the better. In order to get PEP, you’ll need a prescription from a doctor.

It’s a good idea to take PEP if:

  • You know your partner has HIV or you don’t know their status.
  • Your partner has recently had sex with someone who’s status you don’t know.
  • You’re not sure of your partner’s recent sexual history.
  • Your partner suspects they may have been exposed to HIV.

PEP needs to be taken daily for 28 days. Some side effects, such as nausea, may occur.

If it’s too late for emergency contraception, you can still do a few things to take control of the situation.

Figure out where you were in your cycle

Figuring out where you were in your menstrual cycle could put your mind at ease.

In order to get pregnant, a person has to ovulate. This is when the ovaries release an egg. The egg can be fertilized 24 to 48 hours after ovulation.

Ovulation usually happens about halfway through a menstrual cycle. The day a period starts is considered the first day.

Generally, if a menstrual cycle is 28 days long, ovulation usually occurs around day 14 — that is, 14 days after a period starts.

Sperm can remain viable in the body for up to 5 days. So, even if you have 5 days before you ovulate, you can still become pregnant.

If you calculate your day of ovulation, and you didn’t have sex from 5 days before ovulation to 2 days after ovulation, you’re probably in the clear.

However, ovulation dates may differ from person to person, and certain factors might make you ovulate early or late.

Additionally, if your menstrual cycle is irregular, the day of ovulation will be hard to calculate, so it’s important to take a pregnancy test anyway.

Take a pregnancy test

Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are the cheapest, fastest, and most accurate way to find out whether pregnancy has occurred. Home pregnancy tests are available from most pharmacies and even grocery stores.

Most home pregnancy tests can be used from the first day of a missed period, but more sensitive pregnancy tests (which are usually pricier) can be used before that.

Most tests claim to be 99 percent effective if taken after a missed period. To be sure, you could purchase two tests and compare the results.

A false negative is possible, especially early on in a pregnancy, so be aware of early pregnancy symptoms.

Watch for early pregnancy symptoms

Common early pregnancy symptoms include:

  • a missed period
  • sore breasts
  • cramps
  • nausea
  • fatigue

If you experience any of the above, it might be a good idea to take another home pregnancy test or reach out to a doctor to schedule a blood test.

If you had sex without a barrier method and you’re concerned about STIs, there are a few things you can do.

Schedule an STI test

Talk to your doctor or go to a clinic that specializes in reproductive health. They’ll discuss having you tested for one or more of the following STIs:

Most STIs have an incubation period of at least 14 days, so take note of when potential exposure may have occurred. Your provider can help advise you on the best time to get tested.

Watch for STI symptoms

STI symptoms vary, but in general, you should look out for the following:

  • bumps or rashes in your genital area
  • unusual discharge
  • burning during urination
  • pain during penetrative sex
  • itching in the genital area
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and fatigue

If you develop these symptoms and suspect you’ve been exposed to an STI, talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider about getting tested.

In the future, there are a few ways you can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant or contracting an STI.

To prevent pregnancy, discuss your options for contraception with your provider. Common methods include:

Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks. A method that may work for one person might not work for another. For that reason, it’s important to have an in-depth discussion about these options with your healthcare provider.

Condoms are effective forms of contraception — and, like other barrier methods, they have the added benefit of protecting you against STIs.

To prevent a condom from breaking, do the following:

  • Always ensure the condom is the correct size.
  • Make sure you’re putting it on properly.
  • Open the condom packaging carefully. Don’t use your teeth or scissors.
  • Use water-based lube. Oil-based lubes, such as Vaseline, can cause holes to form in a latex condom.

That said, it’s important to remember that no birth control method is 100 percent effective.

Although unlikely, you can get pregnant if just the tip of a penis enters your vagina. Fortunately, emergency contraception is available.

It’s also a good idea to consider whether you were exposed to STIs and keep an eye out for possible symptoms that might develop in the future.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.