5 Myths About Sex and Getting Pregnant in Pools and Hot Tubs

Don't believe these misconceptions about sex underwater

Having Sex in Pools
Myths About Having Sex in Pools. Stuart McClymont/Getty Images

How safe is it to have sex under water? Can you get pregnant in a hot tub, pool, lake, or the ocean? You may have heard one of the many myths circulating about having sex in the water. Let's clear these up with the facts so you can understand the actual risks of pregnancy, sexually-transmitted disease, and birth control failure if you have sex underwater.

Myth: Having Sex Hot Tubs Prevents Pregnancy Due to the High Temperature

This isn't true.

You can get pregnant when having sex in a hot tub, bathtub, or hot springs with high water temperature. Many people believe that having sex in hot tubs is safe because the heat in a hot tub kills sperm. It is true that being in a hot tub for more than 30 minutes can slightly lower sperm count. But heated water temperatures do not lower the number of sperm to a “safe” amount. So, even with a lowered sperm count, a man can still ejaculate 200 to 500 million healthy sperm, and it only takes one to fertilize an egg. Plus, the mixture of hot tub chemicals and heat can increase the chance of your condom breaking while having hot tub sex.

Myth: A Woman Cannot Get Pregnant During Sex Under the Water

Don't be fooled by the widely held myth. You can definitely get pregnant while having sex in pools, hot tubs, or any other type of water. There is nothing that the water can do to prevent pregnancy. Water is not a method of contraception.

Once sperm has been ejaculated into the vagina, their biological goal is to find an egg to fertilize, and water will not stop this mission. Even though pool chemicals may kill sperm, that's only if your man ejaculates into the water. If he ejaculates into you (and you are not using birth control), then you have the same chances of getting pregnant as you would having sex anywhere else.

Myth: You Can Get Pregnant From Sperm in the Water When Not Having Sex

This is sort of a myth. Some people think that that they can get pregnant while being in a pool where sperm is in the water. If there is sperm from ejaculation in the water, it is very unlikely that a woman would get pregnant from those free-floating sperm.

There is one exception to this. If you and your partner are having withdrawal sex in the water, there is the chance that you can become pregnant if he doesn't "pull out" in time or if he has ejected pre-ejaculate fluid.

So, with that being said, let's look at some of the explanations as to why you cannot get pregnant just by being in a pool where sperm may be present.

  • If ejaculation takes place in hot water, or water filled with pool chemicals or bubble-bath solutions, sperm could not survive for more than a few seconds. Also, the water in a pool is usually too cold for sperm to live. In warm water with no chemicals (like a bathtub), sperm could only last for a few minutes after a man ejaculates.
  • It is also unlikely that the microscopic sperm could swim through the water in a bathtub, pool, or Jacuzzi to get to (and in) your vagina. If you are just sitting in a hot tub or swimming in a pool, your vagina is not “open,” and sperm has a very low chance of getting in.
  • Most medical experts agree that pregnancy that happens from ejaculation in the water is very unlikely and, in most cases, is not possible.

Myth: Condoms Are an Effective Birth Control Method for Sex Underwater

Although condoms are great at preventing pregnancy and STDs, they may be somewhat risky to use while having sex in pools, hot tubs, and other types of water. Condoms can break from decreased lubrication and possibly become weakened from heat, chlorine, or oil-based substances in the water (like sunscreen or bubble bath). There is also the added threat that the condom can slip off if water gets into it, and a man may not even notice that this happened.

A female condom is a better choice for couples for sex in the pool or hot tub. If this is not a method you feel comfortable using, then it's better to use a male condom than to use nothing. Just keep the following tips in mind if you choose to use a condom for hot tub sex or pool sex:

  1. To decrease the chances of the condom breaking, use a silicone-based lubricant with the condom. These lubricants are condom safe and water-resistant.
  2. Do not put on the condom while you are in the water. Rolling on the condom while you are out of the water decreases the chances of water getting into a condom.

Myth: You Cannot Catch an STD While Having Sex Under the Water

This is also not the case. Sexually transmitted infections and HIV can still be spread while having sex in the water, even in pools and hot tubs. Using a condom, with the caveats already listed, is your best protection.

Besides catching an STD, having sex in pools, hot tubs, or other water places can also increase getting a urinary tract infection or a yeast infection.

  • The thrusting motion while having sex under water can force substances from the water (like bacteria, salt, and chlorine) into the vagina, leading to irritation or infection.
  • Having sex in pools and hot tubs result in less vaginal lubrication. This can cause super small tears to the vaginal walls, providing a direct way for infections to get inside of you.
  • Natural bodies of water (like lakes and oceans) may contain bacteria or amoebae, and many pools and hot tubs may have increased amounts of bacteria if not chlorinated enough. This can also lead to infections.
  • Chlorine used in pools and hot tubs can disturb the natural pH levels in your vagina, and this can cause a yeast infection.

A Word From Verywell

You are wise to research any myths you hear about sex so you can understand the true risks of pregnancy and STD. Being in the water can affect your choice of birth control and safe sex methods. You'll be able to make better decisions to protect yourself and your partner.

Sources:

Herbenick DD. Q&A: Can Condoms Be Used For Sex In The Water? Kinsey Confidential. https://kinseyconfidential.org/condoms-used-for-sex-in-water/. Published April 30, 2017.

Shefi S, Tarapore PE, Walsh TJ, Croughan M, Turek PJ. Wet heat exposure: a potentially reversible cause of low semen quality in infertile men. International braz j urol. 2007;33(1):50-57. doi:10.1590/s1677-55382007000100008.

The Ten Biggest Myths About Sex. Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/teens/sex/the-ten-biggest-myths-about-sex.

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