The sun is shining, the days are longer, and bodies of water look particularly…inviting. As the weather heats up, it’s natural to take a lot of your indoor activities outside. Much like lunch at home seems way more appealing as a picnic, sex can become even more exciting when it happens al fresco. And really, having sex in the water makes perfect sense. The pool/hot tub/lake/ocean basically aren’t living up to their natural potential if they don’t serve as covers for some interesting below-the-belt activities. But having sex in water isn’t without its risks. Below, six things you need to know before you dive in.
1. In general, public bodies of water are pretty dirty.
Yes, pools have chlorine, but they can also have a lot of bacteria. One of the most common public-pool health issues is improper pH levels, which can make it harder for disinfectants to do their jobs, according to a May 2016 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Same goes for hot tubs. The outlook isn’t much better if you and your partner are looking to, uh, get more in touch with nature. “[Lakes and oceans] are by far the dirtiest,” Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn, tells SELF.
With all of that (kind of downer information) said, you can definitely still have amazing sex in water. It’s theoretically possible you’ll contract some random water-borne infection or disease, but the threat is basically negligible.
2. Water can wash away your natural lubrication.
It’s counterintuitive, but having sex in the water can be tougher on your vagina than having it in a bed. “People think water is like vaginal lubricant, but they’re completely different,” says Abdur-Rahman. When something’s plunging in and out of your vagina underwater, some of that water will naturally find its way inside you, washing away your lubricating vaginal secretions, and potentially drying you out. “That lack of lubrication can make you more prone to micro-abrasions,” says Abdur-Rahman. Those are little tears that can sting when they come into contact with something irritating, like, say, chlorine or salt water. And disinfectants like chlorine are caustic, so even if you don’t get micro-tears, you can end up with an irritated vagina or one with a skewed pH, potentially leading to bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.
The takeaway: If you happen to have some within reach, lube can come in very handy when you’re having sex in water. That brings us to our next point.
3. Lube can combat the (kinda counterintuitive) drying aspect of water—but all lubes are not created equal.
Condoms can function A-OK in the water, so use them if you need to. “As long as the water is safe to swim in—no chlorine levels that are too high, for example—the condom shouldn’t be compromised,” board-certified ob/gyn Antonio Pizarro, M.D., tells SELF. But without proper lubricant, water-induced dryness and friction can make a condom more likely to break, says Abdur-Rahman. If you somehow managed to have some lube on hand for this outdoor adventure, silicone would be your best bet. Oil-based lubes can damage condoms, and water-based ones can wash away too quickly in this scenario, says Pizarro.
4. Yes, you can absolutely, positively get pregnant while having submerged sex.
If someone ejaculates inside of you underwater and you’re not using contraception, you can get pregnant. The semen doesn’t wash away or anything like that, even though some water can enter the vagina during intercourse. And that’s what both doctors really want people to know. “There can be a release of semen during intercourse even before ejaculation,” says Pizarro. Abdur-Rahman agrees. “Even if he pulls out before he ejaculates, you can still get pregnant on land or sea,” he says.
5. But that doesn’t mean you can get pregnant just because someone ejaculates into the water you’re in.
Everyone’s heard rumors about people getting pregnant after swimming in a pool or hot tub where someone ejaculated. Thankfully, this myth doesn’t have any weight. “If there’s no physical contact and there’s an emission of semen into the water, I can’t see how that would lead to pregnancy,” says Pizarro. “[The semen] would have to be very close, or there would need to be some manipulation of the female anatomy to insert the semen.” So if your partner pulls out and ejaculates somewhere else in the water, the sperm can’t home in on your vagina, swim on over, and get you pregnant.
Also, sperm are finicky little guys who thrive in the human body temperature of 98.6 degrees. That’s why they can live for up to five days in a woman’s body, says Abdur-Rahman. Otherwise, they die pretty quickly when out in the open, whether it’s in the colder temperatures of a pool or the warmer ones of a hot tub. (And even if you’re in perfectly body-temperature water, a guy would still have to ejaculate basically inside of you for you to potentially get pregnant.)
6. Like pregnancy, STI transmission is pretty much the same in and out of the water.
Chlorine and other disinfectants may kill some bacteria, but they won’t make it harder for you to get a sexually transmitted infection by washing anything away. Actually, without enough lubricant, you could get micro-abrasions and theoretically boost your chances of getting or spreading an STI. But on the flip side, you can’t catch a random STI from a pool because people had sex in it before you, says Pizarro, who’s had patients who’ve wondered whether public swimming was the cause of their infections. Just like anywhere else, staying safe is a major part of having amazing sex in the water.