I don’t think I’ve had a wet dream yet but I produced a somewhat sticky substance while I was getting intimate with my girlfriend…

…although we were not actually engaging in intercourse. What is this and is there a risk for pregnancy?

Great question!  The substance you’re referring to is called pre-ejaculate (also known as pre-cum). Pre-ejaculate is a clear, sticky fluid often released by the penis between arousal and ejaculation.  Some penises release little to no pre-ejaculate; others may release quite a bit.  Doctors believe the purpose of pre-ejaculate is to make the urethra and the vagina less acidic, allowing sperm to survive longer.

Although pre-ejaculate does not contain sperm when it is produced, it can pick up leftover sperm in the urethra. This means that pre-ejaculate can contain sperm when it leaves the body, creating a risk for pregnancy.  Pre-ejaculate can also transmit STIs. If you do decide to have intercourse, be sure to use condoms consistently, correctly, and every time. If you decide to abstain from intercourse, pregnancy is not a risk unless semen or pre-ejaculate actually touches the vagina.