[Question #1900] Is Pre-Ejaculate and Semen harmful or unsanitary

45 months ago
Hello,
I am a male and I am afraid that my pre-ejaculate and semen might be harmful or unsanitary to others. I'll provide a couple of examples where this fear arises. Sometimes when I wake up I have an erection and notice that a bit of pre-ejaculate has soaked into my underwear. If I touch the residue with my hand and then touch an object such as a doorknob will it be dangerous or unsanitary to another person if they then touch that doorknob? Another example would be when I masturbate. If I masturbate into some tissue paper but some of the semen gets onto my hand and I don't or can't wash my hands, and then proceed to touch other things like a doorknob, will it be unsanitary or harmful to another person if they were to touch that doorknob or other things?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
45 months ago
Welcome back to the forum. I scanned your two previous discussions with Ms. Warren and Dr. Hook a few months ago. I suspect you understand that this quesiton, like those, is a refelction of your self-professed OCD.

No STDs, including HIV, have ever been known to be transmitted through exposure to a contaminated environment. For example, even after years of living in the same households and sharing kitchens, toilets, towels, and eating utensils with people with HIV, genital herpes, HPV, or other STDs, nobody ever becomes infected (assuming of course that they aren't sex or needle-sharing partners).

In any case, you have no known STD, so what conditions or germs are you worried about? But even if you are infected with something, it would be pretty much impossible to leave sufficient infected semen on doorknobs etc to put anyone else at risk. Just for common sense hygiene, i.e. as a social kindness to people who might touch such surfaces, you should wash your hands after masturbating. But this is more an esthetic measure than one related to health and disease transmission.

As it happens, just an hour ago I wrote a blog-like reply to another question about HIV/STD risks through the environment. See #1899.

Final advice:  It would seem your OCD is pretty limiting in your life. If so and if not in counseling, you should consider it. If already in treatment, perhaps recheck with your provider about it. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD

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45 months ago
Thank you for the reply. I just wanted to follow up a bit on the first question. I don't to my knowledge have any STDs (I've been tested several times and am not currently sexually active). The thing that still bothers me is that I have it in my head that semen or ejaculate is somehow unsanitary, dangerous, or carries with it some kind of harmful bacteria on its own even when it is absent of STDS.  I am associating it with something like urine or fecal matter which I know can contain harmful bacteria or is considered unsanitary. 

So my problem is that when for example I wake up in the morning and I notice some wet pre-ejaculate residue in my boxer shorts I become afraid that I'm now contaminated. Furthermore, if my hands come into contact with the pre-ejaculate when I go to the washroom and then I touch the faucet to wash my hands or a doorknob I've now contaminated those objects. And if someone were to now touch those objects, they could possibly become sick (from what I don't know). I also fear that my bedding and sheets are now contaminated and that sleeping in them is somehow unsanitary. This has lead to me having to wash my bedding just about everyday, which seems excessive.

This obviously also extends to when I have an erection throughout the day and pre-ejaculate is emitted and when I masturbate (which is not very often anymore).

So I guess my question ultimately is if semen or pre-ejaculate is harmful on its own? Can I simply go throughout my day normally if I have some pre-ejaculate residue in my boxer shorts?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
45 months ago
"I have it in my head that semen or ejaculate is somehow unsanitary, dangerous, or carries with it some kind of harmful bacteria on its own even when it is absent of STDS. I am associating it with something like urine or fecal matter which I know can contain harmful bacteria or is considered unsanitary."

It is true that body fluids can be thought of as "unsanitary". However, outwardly healthy people rarely have any abnormal bacteria, viruses, or other things that can be transmitted by contact with their genital fluids, urine, or feces. Of course the risk is not zero, which is why people should wash hands after using the toilet or touching the genital or anal area. But feces is the main concern, as well as respiratory secretions (nose, saliva, etc). Even with these, and with neglecting handwashing, the chance of transmitting any infeciton is low, and mostly from feces, saliva, or nasal secretions; and lowest of all for genital fluids and urine. Having erections during the day, with pre-ejaculate fluid, does not mean anything at all in terms of infection risk for other persons.

Accordingly, the direct answer to your summary question is no:  Semen and pre-ejaculate fluid are unlikely to carry any infection that you could possibly transmit to other persons, other than sexually; and definitely are not harmful "on their own". You can safely "go throughout [your] day normally" with pre-ejacuate fluid in your undershorts.

Please re-read my advice above about counseling for your OCD. That's the only health problem in evidence in this thread.
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44 months ago
Thank you. I am currently seeking treatment for the OCD. I have just one more question regarding pre-ejaculate and semen. How long can sperm live or survive outside the body? I have this fear that if I have an erection and emit pre-ejaculate or masturbate and ejaculate that I can cause a female to become pregnant via non-sexual means. So, for example, I have an erection and emit pre-ejaculate or masturbate and then get some of the semen or pre-ejaculate onto my hands. I then go to wash my hands but I don't wash them well enough and some of the pre-ejaculate or semen is still on my hands. I then touch some inanimate object such as a doorknob or book and transfer the pre-ejaculate or semen to that object. A female then comes and touches the object. The female then goes and uses the toilet or touches their hand to their genital area. Is it possible for a female to become pregnant this way if a certain time hasn't passed (I'm not sure what this time duration would be) and the pre-ejaculate or semen is still wet and hasn't dried? Are the sperm in the pre-ejaculate or semen still potent or viable to cause pregnancy? Can sperm survive longer in liquids (let's say I somehow transfer the pre-ejaculate or semen into a glass of water or drink or something and a female touches the liquid with her hand and then proceeds to use the washroom or touch her genital area)? I'm pretty sure these concerns are a reflection of my OCD but ultimately I'm trying to figure out how long sperm can live outside the body and can cause a pregnancy. Short of sexual intercourse or ejaculating outside the vagina but then immediately getting the ejaculate into the vagina (for example ejaculating into my hand and then getting the ejaculate into the vagina by touching the female's vagina or genital area) is it possible to cause pregnancy in the ways I've described?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Sperm surely die as soon as semen dries. I have no idea whether they might die off before drying is complete. But I don't see that it matters. I doubt any woman has ever gotten pregnant through contact with sperm in the cineforonment or beause or the sorts of contacts you describe. As you probably realize, this is your OCD speaking:  you are very seriously, and irrationally, overemphasizing this.

That completes this thread. Note the forum does not permit repeated questions on the same topic or exposure. This is your 5th or 6th, all with similar concerns, and it will have to be your last one; future new questions will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers. In addition, experience shows that continued answers tend to prolong users' anxieties rather than reducing them. Finally, such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. I trust you will understand.

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