A Colombian Health Official Warned Against Having Sex In The Afternoon During The Heat Wave
This being August and all, most people in most states will find themselves uncomfortably hot: Temperatures hover in the 80s and 90s throughout much of the country, and in New York City, stepping out your door feels like stepping into a giant, feverish mouth. It is very hot, the air is wet, and everything has a ripe human smell. Or a trash smell, depending on where you live. Anyway, if you too are feeling personally victimized by the weather — with your whole face sliding down your head, thanks to the sweat waterfall pouring from your hair — know that the citizens of Santa Marta, Colombia, feel your pain. They may feel it with particular ferocity: Not only is Santa Marta currently mired in a heat wave, but according to the Associated Press, their city health secretary also issued a very annoying guidance. This week, Julio Salas strongly recommended a moratorium on sex until the heat breaks, an advisory that met with "a mix of laughter and disbelief," to quote the AP.
According to Colombian Reports, Salas said on air with the local radio station Radio Galan, "Avoid making love or having sex at times when the temperature is high, especially at noon, because this activity places physical demands on you and increases your heart rate." Fun to see him draw that distinction between sex and love-making, eh?
Salas reportedly added that sexual activity could safely resume after sunset, or when the temperature is lower. Lately, temperatures in Santa Marta have rocketed into the over-100-degrees-Fahrenheit realm, and according to the AP, the crushing heat has deluged the town's medical facilities. Other recommended heat-beating solutions from other city health officials include: drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, avoiding sun exposure and much as possible, and wearing loose, breezy clothing. (Hereditary linens, anyone?)
Sure, if you work up a soaking sweat during sex, then dehydration should rank among your concerns when temperatures spike: Your body may lose a lot of water during a vigorous bought of banging (I don't know how much you sweat, so), and if you don't replace it, a raft of symptoms — include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, light-headedness, bodily dryness, and also the aforementioned escalated heart rate — may set in. Another possible side effect of dehydration, for both the penis-havers and vagina-havers out there? Sexual dysfunction: Your body simply doesn't work as well when it doesn't get enough water, so definitely be sure to replenish your fluids frequently during a heat wave.
But do you need to temporarily swear off sex? Does sex in steamy climates really pose a cardiac risk? Studies say sex may not be as intensive an aerobic activity as some of us, perhaps those of us who eschew exercise, would like it to be.
Yet that may not actually be the issue. Dr. Sheila Loanzon, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist and a fellow with the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, tells Bustle that when body temperature rises in an already-hot environment, the body has a hard time balancing its own heating and cooling systems. A heat stroke happens when body temps surpass 104 degrees, Dr. Loanzon points out. "If the ambient temperature [outside] is already 104 degrees, then the body cannot regulate and cool itself as expected," Dr. Loanzon says.
"The body regulates overheating by producing sweat, which evaporates," Dr. Loanzon says. "When the humidity and temperature of the surroundings reaches a certain point, the sweat doesn’t evaporate," and that prevents the body from cooling itself off. "As our internal body temperature increases, the body increases oxygen use, which can lead to dehydration, enzyme inactivation, shock," and, Loanzon continues, even organ failure if the situation goes on too long. Intercourse may actually mess with the body's ability to self-regulate, she says. Perhaps Salas is on to something.
But hey, you are only human, and maybe this relentless heat makes you want to take a sexy swim with your partner. That's allowed: "Make sure to stay cool and hydrated," Loanzon says. You may also consider slinging a cool cloth around your neck, drinking ice water, misting yourself with a refreshing spray, and fanning yourself for improved air circulation if you don't have or can't use an air conditioner. Unfortunately, sticking to less strenuous sex positions might not make much of a difference, she says. But, as Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. — a clinical professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine — tells Bustle, the odds of developing heat stroke from sex, or any palpable heart/health problems, are very small.
So there you have it: Sex and heat don't always mix, an idea which appeals to my own personal sense of intuition. Get off me with your furnace body when it's above 90; the only appropriate activity is lying in a cold dark room until the hellish humidity burns off.