By Ashley Laderer
- Sex in water can be safe and enjoyable, but it’s important to know the potential risks and take precautions.
- You can still get pregnant from having penetrative sex in water, but you won’t get pregnant if someone just ejaculates into the water that you are in.
- If you are having sex in the shower, you should still use a condom, as it can still be safe and effective.
- This article was medically reviewed by Rosara Torrisi, LCSW, CST, MSSW, MEd, PhD, Certified Sex therapist at the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Many TV shows and movies have steamy sex scenes that take place in the water – be it a pool, hot tub, or the ocean. Sure, the idea of sex in water is erotic and romantic, but how safe is it?
Can you get pregnant from water sex? “Regardless of the body of water, if vaginal penetration with sex occurs then precautions against pregnancy should be considered,” says Heather Figueroa, MD, board-certified OBGYN at Loma Linda University Health. However, if someone ejaculates into the water, but not inside a vagina, it would be extremely unlikely for a woman to become pregnant because the water would dilute the semen, says Figueroa.
If you’re going to have sex in the water, you need to be aware of the risks and how to do it in the safest way possible. Here are five facts you need to know for safe, enjoyable water sex.
1. Try lube
Just because water is wet, it doesn’t mean it can be used as a lubricant, Figueroa says. In fact, it has the potential to make friction worse.
With adequate arousal from foreplay, women will typically produce their own lubricant, especially women who haven’t gone through menopause, Figueroa says. However, being in the water may rinse away some of this natural lubricant.
If the vagina isn’t lubricated enough, this can result in uncomfortable or painful sex as well as an increased risk of microtears, or tiny cuts, which can be painful, as well. To be on the safe side, it’s best to use additional lube.
2. Use a condom in the water
You can – and should – use a condom in the water if you are looking to protect yourself against STIs and pregnancy.
According to Figueroa, a condom should still work underwater, as long as it’s applied outside of the water and has a good fit. While there isn’t concrete research or statistics about how well condoms work underwater or in different water temperatures, it’s certainly better than nothing.
If you want to have sex in the water while preventing pregnancy and STIs, Figueroa says sex in the shower might be the safest and easiest option. Since you won’t be completely underwater, it will be easier to use a condom and keep it on. According to Planned Parenthood, a condom is safe and effective to use in the shower.
Still, Figueroa says condoms with typical on-dry-land use will cause about 13% of women to have unintended pregnancies. “That rate would definitely increase with the added complexity of sex within bodies of water: getting it on, keeping it on, etcetera,” says Figueroa. The main risk you face is that the condom may fall off, in which case you will not be protected from STIs or pregnancy.
Birth control, such as the pill or an IUD, may be more ideal if you want to have sex in the water and prevent pregnancy. However, keep in mind that these forms of birth control do not protect you from STIs.
3. Be wary of lakes and oceans
Bodies of water can be dirty, so they may not be the safest spot for sex.
The ocean can be a poor choice, since bacteria may be living in ocean water and if you have an open wound, it’s possible to contract a vibrio vulnificus infection or staph infection, even if you are not having sex.
It’s possible to get infections from pools or hot tubs, too. Figueroa says that poorly maintained hot tubs that are not chlorinated as per CDC guidelines can cause infections of the prostate and bladder.
Additionally, molloscum contagiosum and plantar warts have been associated with public pools and hot tubs. “These things luckily are all unlikely, but if one decides to have adult playtime in the pool or hot tub, you should take precautions. If afterward you get fevers, chills, pelvic or urinary pains then talk to a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider,” says Figueroa.
4. Know the STI risks
Having sex in the water won’t prevent you from getting STIs. Any time you are having genital to genital contact, there is the risk of contracting an STI, Figueroa says. Water does not negate this risk.
Common STIs include:
You should take the same precautions you do on land when you are having sex underwater to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs. These risks do not go away in the water.
“While sex in the water might sound exciting, it is perhaps the safest on the movie screen or in the shower. If one really wants to try it, then just make sure you take precautions: clean pool or hot tub, contraception if pregnancy is not desired, understand that STIs still exist, and watch for infection symptoms afterward,” says Figueroa.
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