Can You Have Sex in the Ocean?

From pool sex scenes in Showgirls to hot tub make out in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, many people have fantasies about sex by or in water. But can you have sex in the ocean—and is it safe?

First, the bad news: water sex isn’t as easy as it looks on screen. Also, water (like the ocean, pool or lake) doesn’t kill sperm and can lead to pregnancy.

Safety tips

Whether it’s inspired by iconic movie scenes or simply a way to spice up your romantic getaway, sex in the water can be fun, sensual and adventurous. But sex in the ocean is not without risk. Strong currents, dangerous sea creatures and open-water parasites may put you at risk for serious injury or illness. And the buoyancy of the water can make it hard to find a good position for sexual intercourse, increasing the risk for friction burns.

In addition, chemicals and heat in the water, as well as salt and sand in the vagina, can cause discomfort. Women may also experience a higher risk of urinary tract infections and pelvic pain, particularly if they are using tampons. Instead, consider a menstrual cup that can be worn internally to protect the vagina.

It’s important to use barrier methods, such as condoms, when having sex in the water. It is also a good idea to avoid having sex in the water if you are dizzy, very tired or physically weak, or if you’re intoxicated. And, like any sex act, always have all partners’ consent.

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Getting started

It’s a romantic image: two people making love in the glistening water of the beach. But sex in the ocean, as in a pool or hot tub, is a lot more complicated than you might think. There are real risks, like the possibility of STIs and unwanted pregnancies, and there’s a chance you might get bacteria in your vagina or sand in your penis (it’s called prisoner penis syndrome).

Even if both partners are strong swimmers, drowning is still a risk in bodies of water, so be sure to stay close to shore. You should also wear a life jacket in case the tide or undercurrents carry you away. It’s also important to have a backup plan in case one or both partners need to leave the area quickly.

And don’t forget to use protection: the same precautions you would take on land are necessary in water as well. It’s important to make sure the condom is clean and not cracked, and to check it frequently for breakage. Chlorine can weaken the structure of condoms, so it’s a good idea to layer them or use a different kind of protection. Plus, seawater can reduce your natural lubrication, so it’s even more important to use lots of lube. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol before and during sex in the water, as it can decrease your sensations and lead to more friction.

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The ocean, a pool, a hot tub or even the shower can all make for steamy and sensual experiences. But while sex in water might sound tempting (and maybe something you want to check off your sex bucket list), it’s important to be aware of the risks that come with it.

The biggest concern is that water—even though it feels sexy—is not a good lubricant. It wicks away the natural lubricants your body produces during arousal, and it can cause friction that leads to micro-abrasions or vaginal tears. That, in turn, can lead to bacterial infections, including STDs, or even cause painful cramps.

Additionally, saltwater and chlorine from the ocean or your pool can break down condoms, exposing you and your partner to bacteria and other potentially harmful substances. Plus, if you’re engaging in penetrative sex, the salt water can cause irritation, chafing and discomfort.

If you’re curious about trying out water sex, try it in the bath at first to see how comfortable and intimate it is for you. And if you do decide to go for it in the water, always use silicone-based lubricant and keep your hands above water as much as possible. This will help prevent irritation and minimize the risk of infection. And be sure to check the condom frequently between sexual positions, as the chlorine from pools can weaken them and increase your chances of a broken condom and pregnancy.

Getting out of the water

Getting out of the water is important, especially if you’re doing penetrative sex. The salt in the ocean can irritate your anus and the water pressure can wash away your natural lubrication. You may also have a harder time keeping your balance.

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If you do want to get intimate in the water, try using a silicone-based lube like Astroglide’s Diamond Gel. The lube won’t wash off as easily and it can help prevent tears. Tears make it easier to transmit infections from one partner to the other.

It’s also a good idea to bring a waterproof condom. You can find them online and at some major stores. The waterproof condoms are made of a thicker rubber than normal condoms, so they’re less likely to break, crack, or slip off during an intimate moment.

While having sex in the ocean can be fun and adventurous, it’s not always safe. It’s more risky than having sex in a pool or hot tub. You’re at risk of infection from bacteria in the water, unwanted pregnancies, and STIs. These risks don’t disappear in the water and they can actually be increased in some cases. So, it’s best to save your sexy water adventures for the big screen.

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