The VICE Guide to Having Sex During a Heatwave Without Getting a Heat Stroke

The ocean is getting warmer and my coochie is getting drier.

The climate crisis might be the reason behind my dry spell. No, I am not kidding.

This year, South Asia witnessed a debilitating heat wave that led to temperatures soaring up to 50 degrees Celsius. 

New Delhi, the city I live in, saw its hottest summer with temperatures hitting 50 degrees too. I wish I wasn’t exaggerating, but even stepping out for a few minutes during the day would lead to me getting heat rashes or a heatstroke. The evenings are no better; dust storms and hot air blow at a rapid pace which kinda feels like someone flaying you alive. According to scientists, these heat waves are going to become “100 times more likely.”

In these times, dating or even having casual sex gets harder. While I love meeting new people and getting to know them, my body hates the heat. Even commuting to a date’s place or a bar becomes exhausting. I rely mainly on public transport since high fuel prices in the country have made cabs more expensive. This one time, I showed up to my date’s place but I was no longer thirsty for his D. The heat had made me dehydrated to the point I could feel my organs begging for a sip of water. I no longer wanted to spread my legs for my date; I wanted to lie spreadeagle on his bed and sleep right under the fan while the air conditioner cooled the room. 

Yes, the climate crisis impacts people’s relationships and sex lives, and I’m one of them.

But how exactly do heat waves and erratic temperatures impact our sex drive? Does the heat make us less horny? According to a U.S. study from 2015, the answer is yes. The researchers found that, for every day that soared above 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (26-32 degrees Celsius) between 1931 and 2010, there were 0.4 percent fewer births nine months later. In simpler terms, this means there were 100,000 fewer births in the United States every year.

Higher levels of Vitamin D and serotonin in the summer can make you more horny, but the current heat wave in South Asia is an example of extreme temperature due to the climate crisis. During the 2018 heat wave in Colombia, the health secretary of the coastal city of Santa Mara, Julio Salas, asked people to not have sex in the daytime. “Avoid making love or having sex at times when the temperature is high, especially at noon, because this activity places physical demands on you and increases your heart rate,” Salas said on a local radio station. Salas wasn’t wrong. When my body is drenched in sweat because of the heat, the last thing I want is for someone to touch it.

Relationship counsellor Ruchi Ruuh pointed out that exposure to extreme temperatures can cause an increase in stress hormones. “There is an increase in serotonin, which is a mood stabiliser, and dopamine levels drop when we are exposed to extreme heat,” she told VICE. “As a result of this, we experience irritability, high blood pressure, shivering and palpitations.” 

In such situations, Ruuh pointed out, arousal is often the last thing on our mind. “In order to be aroused, you need to cool down your body and mind, but not everyone has access to an air conditioner or additional coolers.” Ruuh said that if you’re dealing with mental health issues, it might become even harder to manage the heat. Climate change even impacts mental health, with many people experiencing “eco-anxiety.” “You can become more disoriented, and that’s bad news for sex because sex and arousal require a level of mental focus.”

Research also shows that higher temperatures can cause a drop in testosterone in males, leading to lower libido. So if you don’t feel like having sex during the summer – especially when the temperatures are so high, you can feel your epidermis burning – it could be because of your hormones too.

The climate crisis is even impacting newborn sex ratios. According to a study in Japan, climate change could alter the proportion of male and female newborns, with more males born in places where temperatures rise and fewer males born in places with other environmental changes, such as drought or wildfire caused by global warming. Dr Misao Fukuda, the lead author of the study worked on a separate study that showed a decline in male births in regions hit by environmental disasters. Fukuda told CNN that stress stemming from climate events caused by global warming also impact the sex ratio. He further theorised that changes in sex ratios arise due to the vulnerabilty of Y-bearing sperm cells, male embryos and male foetuses. While scientists don’t exactly know why male foetuses are more vulnerable, some scientists claim it’s because males foetuses are biologically weaker.

Ruuh points out that summer sex is more fun for people who come from colder climates, but for people like me who live in a place that gets real hot in summers, having sex when it’s cooler is a better option. “In pop culture and literature, we see romance being associated with spring,” said Ruuh. “Spring represented that transition point from a gruelling winter, where you have to wear a million layers, to a summer where you can frolic in your favourite pair of shorts. Even Valentine’s Day is in the spring, but global warming is leading to the spring season becoming shorter. While our bodies can find ways to adjust to temperature changes, we are missing out on the opportunity to enjoy and experience pleasure during the spring. Exploring sex and desire during the spring can enhance the libido and make sex more fun.”

Intimacy coach Pallavi Barnwal suggests having rituals around sex that can help one get in the mood even under extreme temperatures. “These rituals could be something as simple as a shower before sex,” she said. “While showering together or shower sex might sound like a good idea, taking a shower alone can help you centre yourself and prepare for sex.” 

Barnwal also suggested scheduling sex with your partner. “Scheduling sex is frowned upon since pop culture has taught us that sex is something spontaneous. But that’s far from true. During a heat wave, you can try scheduling sex with your partner late in the evening after a pre-sex ritual. Go explore your and your partner’s body and find new perspectives.”

Barnwal also shared an ancient practice that can help with sweaty and stinky situations. “The Kama Sutra suggests having a vessel filled with fragrant water by the bedside. In case one of the partners farts, you could use that water to clean them up.”

Lastly, Barnwal suggested to stop thinking of sex as an “all or nothing” act. “Not all sex has to be about intercourse,” she said. “Sensuality comes in many forms and isn’t restricted to the genitals. If it’s too hot to have penetrative sex, you can make love to other parts of your partner’s body.”

There could be more ways to experiment with sex during heat waves,, like showering together, indulging in temperature play by teasing your partner with ice cubes, or having sex in the car with the AC on. If you don’t have an AC at home, you could try putting your sheets in the freezer and then laying them on the bed again, or indulging in dirty talk and having an orgasm without touching each other.

But hey, if sweat fetish is your thing, then sex during heat waves isn’t such a bad option. 

Follow Jaishree on Twitter and Instagram.

Tagged:

mental health, relationships, climate change, summer, heatwave, sweat, orgasm

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