We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: tips for having sex in the water safely.
Q: “I’ve always dreamed of having sex in the water. I’m not too particular about the specific location (pool, bathtub, shower, ocean, lake, river), just the water itself is a fantasy. My partner and I would like to give it a go, but I was wondering if you have any practical tips for making it the best experience possible. Is there anything we should know before we give it a go?“
A; Thanks for the question! I can certainly understand the appeal of sex in the water. There’s the excitement of getting it on somewhere new, and the idea can seem so romantic. There’s also the promise of more ease and flexibility for people who suffer from injuries, paralysis, or chronic pain, or who aren’t otherwise very mobile.
Unfortunately, sex in the water poses some major logistical challenges that can make it difficult to turn your fantasy into a reality (I know, I know, cue the sad trombone). Here are six things you need to know before attempting sex in the water, plus some very sexy alternatives.
1. Know That Getting Caught Comes With Serious Risk
Let me go all in on party-pooper mode, and point out that having sex in public places, including bodies of water, can lead to major consequences, including fines, arrest, and even jail time. It seems like every few weeks there’s news of a new couple getting caught having sex in public. If you’re trying to get it on in a lake or in the ocean, your best bet is to wait until nighttime, and the area is deserted. (Please refrain from sex in public or hotel pools. Chlorine just isn’t strong enough for those of us who have to swim in that pool afterwards!) That factor in and of itself can pose enough of a logistical challenge to prevent you from having underwater sex. You're much safer sticking to your shower, bath, or your own backyard.
2. Not All Water Is Created Equal
You’ll also want to be mindful of the specific area that you have your eye on for your tryst. Standing bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and swimming holes are generally bad calls because they can be host to nasty bacteria. That bacteria can wind its way into your urethra or vaginal canal during intercourse, leading to infection. You might also have to contend with fish or insects. Salt water can be cleaner, but the salt can be unpleasant on female genitals (it stings!). Pools and hot tubs are hit or miss; it depends on how frequently they’re cleaned, but you won’t be able to know that unless you do some serious sleuthing. Further complicating matters, some of the chemicals used to clean pools and hot tubs, like chlorine, can also be irritants to the vagina. Your shower or bath — or your private pool or hot tub, if you’re lucky enough to have one — are the safest bets.
3. You Can Get Pregnant Or Get An STI In Water
First, let’s get some major urban sex myths out of the way — yes, you can get pregnant from having sex in the water (if you’re with a male partner). The semen doesn’t “wash away” with the waves. You can also contract sexually transmitted infections in water. No, chlorine doesn't kill STIs! I’m not sure why these myths still persist, but the bottom line is that water doesn’t magically act as a condom.
4. ...But Condoms And Water Don't Play Well
Unfortunately, the most popular method of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention — the condom — doesn’t play well with water. Some condom manufacturers claim that their condoms are safe to use in water, but there just hasn’t been enough research for me to feel comfortable giving you the go-ahead. Water can wash away a condom’s lube or spermicide. Warm or hot water may break down a condom, and so can chlorine and other disinfectants. Plus, condoms are far more likely to slip off during underwater intercourse. I know I just said the bath or shower are your safest bets, but bath bubbles or oils can also break down condoms. So can shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and body lotions, so don’t think about trying those as lube!
If you are going to use a condom, put it on before getting into the water, hold it in place if you can, and be mindful about slippage. But I would highly recommend only having sex with partners with whom you’re fluid bonded, and ensuring that you have a different form of birth control in place, like an IUD or the Pill.
5. You Have To Use Lube
You would think that having sex in water would make for some nice slippery sex, but that’s sadly not the case. Water actually washes away your natural vaginal lubrication. This makes lube a non-negotiable. If you don’t use it, the increased friction can make it more likely that your condom will break. It can also make it more likely for you to get micro-tears in your vaginal walls, leading to infection. Here’s one additional wrinkle — water-based lubes will dissolve in water, so you need to use a silicone-based lube. I always recommend Pjur Original; apply about a quarter-sized amount of lube before entering the water.
6. Good Water Sex = De-prioritizing Intercourse
So, you’ve read all of this, but you still want to get in on in the water? What’s a girl to do? My main advice — de-prioritize intercourse. It’s just too complicated. Plus, there are so many other ways to have sex that can be amazingly sexy. Here are some ideas:
Masturbate together. The water will protect you from being able to see everything, so this is a great option for people who feel a little embarrassed about being watched.
Give each other hand jobs under the water. This can even work if there are people in the distance, since people won’t be able to tell what you’re doing (again, a reminder to be respectful!).
Perform oral in the shower.
Wrap your legs around your partner’s waist and have an intense make out and grinding session.
Use a hand-held showerhead to stimulate yourself in the shower or bath. Try it on your nipples, butt, thighs, or clitoris. Let your partner watch, or have them take control. Of course, use reasonable caution — don't let the water get too hot, and aim to keep the water external, since having too much water internally can come with risks.
If you want to have intercourse, fool around in the water first, then get up and have sex on dry land.