From horror stories about infections and rashes to romanticized hot tub trysts on shows like Riverdale, you've likely encountered a lot of conflicting information about whether or not it is safe to have sex in a pool or hot tub. In an effort to set the record straight, I asked two experts to help clarify the myths and truths about underwater sex. The answer to the safety question is more nuanced than a simple yes or no, but if you do choose to get intimate in a pool or hot tub, there are certain precautions you should take and potential risks to be aware of.
Dr. Megan Stubbs, a board-certified sexologist with degrees in biology and human sexuality, says some sexual activities are safe for pools and hot tubs, but not all. "Manual sex like hand jobs and vulva or clitoris play are great in this aqueous environment," she says. "As far as penetrative [vaginal or anal] sex goes, I wouldn't advise it." While having sex in pools, hot tubs, or even showers is often portrayed as sexy and fun, "it's not as effortless or carefree as we have been led to believe," according to Stubbs. Here's what else you need to know about the downsides and possible dangers of having sex in water.
Condoms might be less effective.
"Having sex in a pool or hot tub does not increase your risk of pregnancy or STIs," says Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist. "However, the chemicals can weaken the latex or condom sheath and result in pregnancy or STIs due to perforations in the condom." No matter what your environment, you should always be mindful of protecting yourself against STIs and unwanted pregnancy. It's a known fact that latex is susceptible to weakening from extreme hot and cold temperatures, so the heat of the water in a hot tub could compromise a condom's effectiveness, according to Stubbs.
The water will wash away your natural lubricant, making penetration less comfortable.
Having sex in water also doesn't decrease your chance of getting pregnant. "Water may wash away your natural lubricant, but it isn't going to rid your body of ejaculate," says Stubbs. Yes — contrary to what you might think, having sex in water actually hinders your natural lubrication, which can lead to more painful sex. "From the action of penetration, water will enter the vagina and wash away your natural lubrication and can potentially lead to microabrasions and painful sex," adds Stubbs.
Richardson explains that harsh chemicals such as chlorine can also dry you out and make intercourse painful. If you do hook up in a pool or hot tub and experience dryness or discomfort afterwards, she recommends using a vaginal moisturizer such as Replens to rehydrate the vaginal tissue.
Underwater sex increases your risk for infection.
If you already have a yeast infection, a hot tub will likely make it worse. Additionally, the chances of getting a UTI, yeast infection, or bacterial vaginosis increase when you have penetrative sex in water, according to Stubbs. "Between the potential for microabrasions and the bacteria in the water, it is just a perfect environment waiting for a way in," she says. Pretty much any time you introduce a foreign substance into your vagina or urethra, you risk upsetting the pH, which can result in the aforementioned conditions.
A happy medium would be to engage in some foreplay in the water, and then move to dry land for the main event. And if you are truly determined to have sex in the water, Stubbs says you should definitely use lubricant. When using a condom, she suggests pairing it with silicone lubricant, which has a higher viscosity and will last longer in wet conditions than water-based lubricant. "If condom-less sex is something for you and your partner, try using an oil-based lube as the water will not as easily wash it away. But remember, oil and latex condoms are not friends," she says.
Having intercourse in a pool or hot tub can actually dry you out, leading to pain during or after penetrative sex. Plus, there's a greater chance of getting an infection. Experts advise against having vaginal or anal sex in these environments, but using your hands on each other is a great way to get turned on before having sex indoors.
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