OCD – Toilets & Pregnancy

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hello, I am terrified I will impregnate someone by accident.

Whenever I go to the toilet I have to make sure I wipe down everywhere where my Penis (or my hands) may have touched. If I’m in a shower I ususally undergo the same behaviour. I do this because I am scared any (however small) amount of cum may come into contact with a woman’s vagina, thereby impregnating her.

I feel I have to do this whether I have recently masturbated or not. (Although especially if I have).

I am aware doctors will say the chances of pregnancy from this are incredibly slim. I need to convince myself of this somehow? I have been diagnosed of with OCD and exhibit other OCD-type behaviours as well.

I look forward to hearing from you.

A. Science is based on the laws of probability. Probability is a measure of how likely something is to happen. As a general rule, we should be more concerned about things that have a higher likelihood of occurring and less concerned with things that have a lower likelihood of occurring.

If the probability of something happening is very high we should be very concerned and treat it as if it is going to happen. If the probability of something happening is very low we should not be concerned and we should treat it as if it is not going to happen.

The issue is how much concern is appropriate for you to show towards low probability events. The answer is simple. The lower the probability the less concerned you should feel. Problems develop when we become anxious or concerned to a higher degree than is appropriate for a low probability event.

People do not always consider probability when making decisions and they make unrealistic decisions and choices. The lottery is a good example. The odds are very much against them yet many people realistically believe they can win the lottery. The odds of winning a large lottery may be 650 million to 1.

Millions of people buy tickets for that lottery and you know if you follow national lotteries that oftentimes, even after hundreds of millions of tickets have been sold, no one has a winning ticket. That’s how hard it is for something to occur when the probability is very low. Millions of people buy tickets, very few will ever win because the odds are against it.

The likelihood of you impregnating a woman in the manner that you have described is exponentially small. Though it is theoretically possible to impregnate a woman most professionals would say that no woman has ever been impregnated in that way. That doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for a woman to be impregnated that way but it means that no woman has ever been impregnated that way and probably no one ever will be, though it will always remain a possibility. Should you worry about something that has never happened and likely never will?

Here’s a list of things that are much, much more probable and are much more likely to occur to you.

The odds of being hit by lightning are approximately 1 in 1.1 million. The odds of being hit by lightning are much greater than impregnating a woman in the manner that you have described. Are you worried about being hit by lightning? Probably not.

The odds of being killed in a car crash is 1 in 5000. The odds of being killed in a car crash are fairly high. Are you afraid to ride in a car? Probably not.

The odds of being killed by a shark is 1 in 3.7 million. The odds of being killed by a shark are much, much greater than impregnating a woman as you have described. Do you have excessive anxiety about being killed by a shark? Probably not.

The odds of being killed in an airplane crash is 1 in 11 million. The odds of being killed in an airplane crash are very low yet they are many, many times greater than impregnating a woman in the manner that you have described. Do you have great anxiety about being killed in an airplane crash? Probably not.

The issue is very clear. You have excessive anxiety that is not warranted. You are degrading your life experience because you are sensibly afraid of something that you should not be afraid of. Why? Because it is immensely unlikely to occur. It is so unlikely to occur that according to many professionals there is no documented proof that anyone has ever become impregnated in the manner you have described.

The type of anxiety that you are describing is easily and successfully treated in therapy. I hope you will consider counseling to relieve or eliminate your symptoms. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). OCD – Toilets & Pregnancy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/09/ocd-toilets-pregnancy/

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