A commissioner of Indonesia's Child Protection Commission (KPAI) is being asked to step down after she made an inaccurate claim in February 2020 that a woman could get pregnant from simply swimming in the same pool with men.
Commissioner Sitti Hikmawatty caused quite a stir when, during an interview, she said that "There is an especially strong type of male sperm that may cause […] pregnancy in a swimming pool."
"Even without penetration, men may become sexually excited and ejaculate, therefore causing a pregnancy," she added.
She also said that this is especially possible if women are "in a phase where they are sexually active.
"No one knows for sure how men react to the sight of women in a swimming pool," she stressed.
Naturally, those from the medical profession were quick to debunk this claim.
No, sperm cannot survive for long in a swimming pool.
An executive from the Indonesian Doctors Association, Nazar, said, "The water in swimming pools contains chlorine and other chemicals,” he said. "Sperm cannot survive in these conditions," the Antara news agency quoted him as saying.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), "Anytime the penis comes into direct contact with the vaginal area, there is the chance of pregnancy."
Therefore, in a situation similar to what was described by Commissioner Hikmawatty where ejaculation takes place in water and no direct contact happens between a man and a woman, the APA says, "It is not likely that tiny sperm could travel through the vast area of water that would fill a pool, bathtub, or hot tub to reach the vagina and result in pregnancy.
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"If ejaculation occurred in plain warm water, sperm could survive for a few minutes.
If ejaculation occurs in very hot water, or water filled with pool chemicals, bubbles or other substances, sperm would not be able to survive for more than a few seconds. Pregnancy occurring from this is very unlikely and in most cases is not possible at all," the APA underscores.
But yes, you can get pregnant without intercourse.
The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, on its website, states that it is only possible for a woman to get pregnant without having sexual intercourse if:
- your partner ejaculates into or near your vagina
- sperm gets into the vagina - if you or your partner touches the sperm and then the vagina
- your partner's penis comes into contact with your body near your vagina
However, the NHS clarifies that under these circumstances, "The risk of getting pregnant in this way is very low because sperm can only live for a short time outside of the body."
The KPAI has since issued an official statement to address the controversy following Hikmawatty's claims.
“We hereby state that KPAI’s understanding and attitude are not reflected in the online news narrative,” KPAI chairman Susanto wrote.
Commissioner Hikmawatty, meanwhile, has also apologized and admitted that she had made an "inaccurate statement."