First, there's the discomfort. Water washes away your natural vaginal lubrication. That means having sex in a hot tub comes with an increased risk of irritation, microabrasions, and microtears. (Proof that all those movies with steamy pool sex scenes were written by men.) If you have penetrative sex in the water, you’ll want to use silicone lube to keep things slick; water-based lube won't stand up to the hot tub jets either.
Another risk is unintended pregnancy. Even if you never believed the old myth that chlorine kills sperm (let's be clear: it does not), having sex in a hot tub makes a condom more likely to slip off, and potentially more likely to break. As sex educator Erica Smith (no relation) previously explained to Refinery29, “A condom wouldn't be as effective in a hot tub — hot chlorinated water may interfere with its durability. Note that condom manufacturers don't test condoms in water or chlorinated conditions, so the extent of their durability there is anecdotal.” An internal condom may be more likely to stay put, she said.
And finally, there’s the bacteria. As we noted above, you can’t catch a STI from hot tub water because STIs, by definition, are passed through sexual or skin-to-skin contact. But you can get a UTI. “What is in that hot tub? Bacteria! The water could get thrust inside the vagina during sex, and the microtears and abrasions make you more susceptible to infection,” Smith explained. “UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, and a yeast infection could be potential outcomes.”
Think a hot tub is sexy, but not willing to risk a yeast infection? The solution is to begin foreplay in your (private!) hot tub, then move out of the water. You can even keep the hot tub involved, if you want to. For example, you could hop out of the water to sit on the edge of the hot tub while your partner goes down on you. In this scenario, your legs are still in the water, but your vagina is not.
If that sounds like it could get chilly, you could always just move to the bedroom or living room. Gynecologist Leah Millheiser, MD, previously suggested to Refinery29, “Use [the hot tub] for foreplay, then move somewhere else for intercourse. Challenge yourself to keep the sexual energy going until you reach that place.” And all the better if that place is just a few feet away.