Is this pre-cum, or something else? Is this normal?
When I'm aroused my penis secretes a liquid. I'm sure it's not pre-mature ejaculation because at times it can be quite a bit. Quite frankly, I think it grosses my girlfriend out. Is this normal? It's not new to me, I've always had it. Is there something I can do to minimize or eliminate this completely? Thanks.
The fluid that you're describing is probably pre-ejaculatory fluid (pre-cum). Pre-cum, released during sexual arousal, is a clear, mucus-like secretion of the Cowper's glands that may or may not contain sperm. Pre-cum appears to neutralize the acid from urine in the urethra and to provide lubrication, paving the way for sperm.
Other less likely explanations for this liquid could be mild incontinence during stress (including sexual arousal), causing urine to leak and mix with pre-cum that's released, adding to its volume; infection (except discharge related to this condition occurs whether or not you are aroused); or, even less common, improperly working intraurethral valves. It's even possible, though less likely, that you're experiencing orgasms that are so mild that they go unnoticed (except for the ejaculation). Based on what you've written, however, it's more than likely that your penis is releasing plain ol', ordinary pre-cum.
Men vary in the amount of pre-cum they produce, from none at all, to just a drop, to a significant release of fluid, all of which can be normal. Age, intensity of sexual excitement, and duration of touching can all affect amount of pre-cum.
Since this is probably a normal situation for you, perhaps you can think about ways of shifting the focus of how you both view the volume of your pre-cum. What is it that makes you think your body's response grosses out your girlfriend? Have you ever asked her about it? "Does it bother you that I have a leaky faucet?" Or, maybe this can be an opportunity for you two to learn more about sexual response and your bodies. Sometimes, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable your partner will be." Honey, look, you're wet for me, I'm wet for you!"
You can discuss this with a health care provider, who may provide reassurance that there's nothing wrong with your plumbing, or who may determine more definitively if this is, in fact, a problem. Additionally, keep in mind that pre-cum may contain sperm. A partner could become pregnant or obtain a sexually transmitted infection (including HIV) if the love drops come in contact with another person's mucous membranes. Using a condom can help protect you and your partner from unintentional pregnancy and/or infection.
Since there is no way to minimize pre-cum, perhaps it is time to embrace it! Understanding this lubricating liquid and the purpose it serves may help you and your partner become more comfortable when it arises.