About three-fourths of the way into Showgirls — both the best and the worst film of all time — Jessie Spano and Special Agent Dale Cooper have sex in a swimming pool. The scene is breathtaking: The water is the most inviting shade of blue, the pool is lit by neon palm trees, and a fountain spouts torrents of water on the two lovers as they flail around sensually, alternately gasping with passion and trying not to drown.
Then, there’s the infamous pool scene from Wild Things, which features Neve Campbell and Denise Richards throwing both caution and their careers to the wind as they frolic in and around a pool locked in a passionate embrace. And if you’re anything like me, at least one of these scenes has probably inspired you to at least think of trying to get it on in a pool at some point in your life. Perhaps it’s even on your bucket list, right after a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower and a photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
But is pool sex really worth it? According to Dr. Ruth, the foremost expert on everything right and wrong about sex, not so much. The venerable grand dame of everything sex (now in her 88th glorious year) (God bless!) took to Twitter today to answer the question, which she claims she’s asked quite often. (I’d like to imagine there are people running her down in Whole Foods and hotel lobbies, skipping formalities, and just clutching at her designer suit jacket, begging her to tell them whether chlorine getting into your hoo-haws and what-its is chill or actually quite dangerous.)
Putting aside the issue of whether inundating your internal parts with chlorinated water is okay health-wise, Dr. Ruth points out that there’s another reason you should reconsider planning your next tryst in the cool, calm waters of your apartment complex’s swimming hole. And it has everything to do with pee. PEE.
First of all, a caveat: If you’re planning to have sex in a pool, make sure to take a whiff first. According to an expert who spoke to The Huffington Post, a “healthy pool should have no smell.” That’s because the chlorine in the pool — when it’s just fighting the germs in the water — doesn’t create chloroamines, chemical irritants that are formed when chlorine meets nitrogen. Not only does this reaction create the smell you so often associate with chlorine, but it can contribute to asthma problems, and is what’s responsible for making your eyes gross and red. So if the pool smells like someone’s just disinfected it, it’s probably at its dirtiest!
Now onto the subject of urine itself: According to new research from The University of Alberta — which has finally started answering questions about the amount of urine you’re wading in — we’ve finally got some numbers on how much of the yellow stuff you should expect to be in the pool.
The scientists calculated that one 220,000-gallon, commercial-size swimming pool contained almost 20 gallons of urine. In a residential pool (20-by-40-foot, five-feet deep), that would translate to about two gallons of pee. It’s only about one-hundredth of a percent, but any urine in a swimming pool can be a health concern for some people, not to mention that smell that never quite goes away.
That should be no problem if you, like some people we know, are an alleged golden shower enthusiast. But if the idea of ingesting even one gallon of pee is unpleasant to you, you might consider either not swimming (not an option because swimming is so fun), putting one of those “There’s No P In Our Ool” signs up, or just choosing not to do the dirty in the pool because god knows what you could be getting all up in yourself.
Here’s some more info, if you’re still feeling adventurous:
Apart from being gross, that’s [pee in the pool] also a potential health hazard. Chlorine reacts with urine to form a host of potentially toxic compounds called disinfection byproducts. These can include anything from the chloramines that give well-used pools the aforementioned odor, to cyanogen chloride, which is classified as a chemical warfare agent. There are also nitrosamines, which can cause cancer. There’s not enough evidence to say whether the nitrosamine levels in pools increase cancer risk, Blatchley says, but one study in Spain did find more bladder cancers in some long-term swimmers.
Oh, hell naw! Hand me a towel, I’m getting out!
Experts say that you shouldn’t be too worried about the amount of urine in the pool — although you should tell your friends not to pee while they’re swimming — but that you may want to remember that the only way to remove it from the pool is to change the water completely, something that many people don’t do, choosing to just add water when needed instead.
So if your idea of a beautiful sexual experience doesn’t include soaking up years-old urine into god knows where while contributing to the general mess that’s already polluting the water, it’s time to step back from the diving board (my friend) and stop having sex in the pool. (Dr. Ruth says it’s your choice, but I’m going to go ahead and respectfully ask you to stop it. STOP IT RIGHT NOW!)