What Happens to Semen in Water?

Sperm cells in water may die within a few minutes or continue living for several hours.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 March 2014
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The fate of semen in water may depend on the amount of water present as well as its temperature. Once ejaculated, the semen will begin to break apart and become diluted in the surrounding water. Sperm cells inside of the semen may die within a few minutes, or they may continue living for several hours. The amount of time it takes for semen to be diluted will vary on the water temperature and semen consistency.

In general, there is nothing complicated about what happens to semen in water. As with any fluid, it will slowly mix and combine with the fluids surrounding it. Semen is thicker than water, so this may take several minutes or even longer to occur. A small amount of semen may be seen floating on the top of water for quite some time after ejaculation, or it may sink. The ability of semen to float may be related to the diet and lifestyle of the man since eating certain foods or engaging in certain activities may impact semen's consistency.

It should be obvious that watery semen will dilute with water more quickly than thicker semen. The temperature of the water may also make a difference. Thicker semen is more likely to appear white and float above the surface, while clear, thinner, semen is most likely to sink.


Many women may become worried that they could become pregnant by semen in water during sexual activities performed in the tub or hot tub. This is not typically a concern, but if continued sexual activities are engaged in, this risk may be higher.If pregnancy is a concern, then protection should be used even when engaging in foreplay in the tub, pool, or hot tub. Although sperm won't live very long in cold water, they may survive for up to a few hours in hot or warm water since they thrive in a wet and warm environment.

Other concerns over semen in water are also common. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major health concern, and if infected semen comes in contact with an open wound, the disease may be spread. This is generally not a problem in areas like swimming pools if sufficient chemicals are used in the water for cleaning and disinfecting. Other areas may not be as protected, although the chances of transmission are still relatively small.


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Post 4

This is such a weird thing for people to be worried about. Although I guess some couples like doing it in the hot tub and it would be difficult to practice safe sex in there.

If the pill isn't an option, you might want to look into other forms of birth control. I suspect if people are worried that semen is going into water, should also be cautious about it going elsewhere, since it obviously isn't going into a condom.

Post 3

@pastanaga - It probably depends on the situation. I mean, if it is a spa pool and the temperature is just right, I think it's much more likely. And, when it comes down to it, I think the risk of disease is much more dangerous, so it seems like the kind of thing you'd want to prevent if you can.

The whole thing just seems quite gross to me, to be honest. But anyone who has ever worked at a public pool has got to know those things are usually more bacteria than water, especially if kids play in them. I don't think they are dangerous, since there is so much chlorine, but it isn't nice to think about.

Post 2

I've heard all kinds of urban legends about this, where someone manages to become pregnant from a spa or swimming pool. It's usually either a family member's baby (which is completely sick, but urban legends usually are) or it happens at the local swimming pool and there's no way to know who the father is.

I don't believe that this has ever happened though. I mean, the odds of a sperm cell surviving long enough to make it to a woman and somehow managing to make it to an egg cell as well, even though they usually don't make it even when people are trying to get pregnant, just seem too impossible.

Maybe it's possible, but I doubt it has ever happened. If anyone claims otherwise I suspect they have a reason to lie about it.

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