Can You Have Sex Underwater?

From the iconic pool sex scene in Showgirls to the steamy hot tub makeout in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, movies certainly make having sex underwater look sexy. But the reality is a little different.

Water is not an effective lubricant, and having penetrative sex underwater can cause friction that’s no fun for anyone. Plus, there are some other safety concerns to keep in mind.

1. It’s not as easy as it looks

Many people have fantasized about sex in the water thanks to iconic movie scenes, but it isn’t as easy as you might think. Whether you’re in a pool, a hot tub, or off the coast of a clear body of water, underwater sex requires a lot of maneuvering and balance to pull off. It’s also not particularly safe.

It’s not just that you might slip and hurt yourself, but you’ll also put yourself at risk for bacterial infections, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider. That’s because bodies of water can carry bacteria like E.coli and salmonella that can cause vulva infection.

Another thing to consider is that the water might wash away any natural lubrication or store-bought lube you may be using. That can lead to painful sex, and it can also make your partner susceptible to UTIs, yeast infections, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

In addition, the pressure of the water can force your body parts apart. It’s important to take your time and get used to the positioning before moving on to more intimate activities, and you should also practice with a buddy first. If you do decide to go all the way, you’ll want to use a silicone-based lubricant that won’t rinse off under water. Water sex also doesn’t protect against pregnancy or STIs, so be sure to use condoms and other forms of protection.

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2. You’ll need lube

It may seem counterintuitive, since it’s wet, but water does not act as an effective lubricant. It wicks away any natural oils in the vagina and anus, leaving them feeling dry, which can lead to painful sex. That said, women can typically produce their own lubricant, especially those who haven’t gone through menopause. If you’re going to attempt penetrative sex underwater, it’s best to add a silicone-based lube before submerging yourself.

The other issue with having sex in the pool or hot tub is that the warm water can break down condoms, which means you’ll be at higher risk for contracting some sort of water-borne infection or disease. You’re also at risk for yeast infections, since chlorine can irritate the delicate pH of your down there.

And despite what you may have heard, it is entirely possible to get pregnant from having sex in the pool or any other body of water, as even a small amount of semen can be released during intercourse and enter the vagina. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a condom if you plan on having penetration in the water, and to use a high-quality one that stays slick, like this one. Alternatively, you can also use an external condom on your penis to protect yourself from STIs and pregnancy.

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3. It’s not as comfortable as you think

Despite the very sensuous mental images you might have of two people getting it on in a hot tub, pool, or ocean, the mechanics of this sexual activity take some work. Especially when it comes to penetration, the weightlessness of water can make things tricky. To get through to the flesh underneath, you’ll want to have a lot of foreplay, use plenty of lubricant, and find ways to give each other leverage. Leaning on a pool step or hot tub seat, for example, can help you maintain your balance and provide the extra pressure you need to make penetration more satisfying.

In fact, the biggest issue with having sex in the water—especially if it’s not a hot tub or bathtub filled with water-based lubricant—is that the liquid itself isn’t a great lubricant. It washes away your natural secretions and leaves you both feeling pretty dry down there, which can cause friction during penetration and lead to painful sex. And without enough lubrication, you’re much more likely to get a yeast or bacteria infection in your vulva.

This can be even more of a problem with ocean sex, where saltwater, tides, undercurrents, and a plethora of less-than-friendly aquatic wildlife might be lurking. And, of course, the ocean is an environment where drowning is a very real possibility. Even if you can swim well, there are still the risks of riptides and currents, and the possibility that you could drift from your spot at the bottom of the seafloor and lose sight of land.

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4. It’s not as safe as you think

Despite what you may have seen on the movie screen, water sex isn’t as safe as it might seem. That’s because the risks of pregnancy and STIs don’t go away in the water, no matter how clean the pool or hot tub is. “If someone has sex in the water and isn’t using contraception, they can get pregnant,” says sex therapist Debra Laino.

Having sex in a body of water also opens the door for infections like yeast and urinary tract infections, particularly in the case of ocean sex. That’s because bodies of water can be teeming with bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. Plus, chlorine in pools and hot tubs can irritate the vagina and disrupt that delicate pH level down there. This can lead to an increased risk of yeast infection, and it’s also a common cause for vulva tears that increase your risk for STIs.

Plus, water doesn’t equal lubrication and can actually wash away your natural sebum, as well as any store-bought lubricant you might have on hand. That’s why Laino recommends a good silicone-based lubricant like Move, Uberlube, or System Jo – they stay slippery and won’t wash off as easily.

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