Having sex while at least part of you is submerged in water is obviously hot, but the mechanics of it take some doing. Despite the very sensuous mental images you might have of glistening bodies getting it on under the sun in a pool, Jacuzzi, or off the coasts of oddly clear ocean waters, underwater sex is all about constant maneuvering, balance, and determination. (And not getting a UTI from a whirlpool jet.) Between dealing with waves, bacteria, chemicals, and awkward confined spaces, it might seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
Despite the difficulties of underwater encounters, plenty of people are still eager to pull it off, and for good reason. “My partners’ and my favorite place to be intimate is in either the pool or hot tub,” said Luca Vaccino, a 29-year-old editor in New York City, who said he’s into it for reasons of temperature and texture. Also, it looks amazing—those very sensuous images are hot for a reason. So how to do it? These guidelines will cover the particulars of penetrative sex—but other acts, as we’ll get to, are even easier. When it comes to getting soaked, you’ve got options.
How to use lube during underwater sex
A major issue to contend with when you’re horny underwater is that water does not equal lube—and water will also likely wash off both vaginal lubrication (if you’re having vaginal sex) and store-bought lubricant alike.
In the former case: “If you're having intercourse underwater, the thrusting in and out of the vagina actually causes water to enter [it], which washes away natural vaginal secretions,” said sex therapist Tatyana Dyachenko. “This means [the vagina] can dry out easily, which can then lead to friction burn and microabrasions.” These micro-tears in turn can increase your risk of vaginal infections. For people who menstruate or people whose partners menstruate, one good solution is having period sex in the shower, since the blood acts like lube and there’s a built-in way to clean it up.
There’s no ideal solution to this—water will wash away just about any lube at least somewhat—but silicone lube is more water-resistant and longer-lasting than water-based or oil-based lube, as well as being better at preventing condom breakage. Just avoid using this with silicone toys, as it can deteriorate the material. A lube shooter or launcher, which is inserted into the body to deposit lube internally, can help keep things slippery for longer—use it right before you get in the pool.
What sex positions and acts to do underwater
Positioning can be a challenge when water is covering you and your partner, especially if you’re in a large body of water with waves threatening to take you down and nothing but your partner to hold on to.
Some positions offer more stability than others. Marla Renee Stewart, a sexologist and lecturer at Clayton State University, recommended a few different positions. “In water where one person is buoyant and the other is able to stand, you can have the person penetrating on the bottom while the person being penetrated wraps their legs around them,” she said. “If you have a Jacuzzi or pool, or a shower or tub with a chair, you can also do fun sitting positions.” These configurations are fairly easy to get into and allow you to keep your balance more so than just floating free and getting a mouthful of chlorine in the process.
Vaccino said he prefers standing doggy for the pool if both partners’ feet can touch the bottom, and “backseat driver”—where one person is sitting and the other is on top of them, facing away from them—for the hot tub. “They offer stability. Both partners can keep their heads out of the water, and they’re positions you can keep up for a while,” he said. As he also pointed out, “Position changes are momentum-killers for sex in the water,” because of the added effort it takes to move around until you find another one that works.
If penetration seems too wobbly or otherwise tricky, Stewart suggested keeping it simple by stimulating each other with your hands or toys instead of trying to maneuver intercourse or oral sex. “You should do sex acts in water that are easy to concentrate on,” she said. “When we multitask, we can only do one thing well, so, when you’re holding your breath and performing oral sex, one thing is going to suffer.” Water-friendly sex acts that might be easier than penetrative sex include external fingering or handjobs, mutual masturbation, and oral sex with the receiver sitting at the edge of the water or floating in the water. Sex also doesn’t necessarily need to include orgasm or ejaculation—and maybe it shouldn’t in Jacuzzis or pools, as it can be difficult to clean sexual fluids out of the water.
How to have safer sex underwater
Contrary to urban legend, chlorine doesn’t kill off sperm. “A common misconception is that a person with a uterus can't get pregnant if they have sex in water,” said Dyachenko. “This is absolutely not true.” (Obviously, though: This doesn’t mean you can get pregnant by someone ejaculating in the water, outside your body.)
Condoms generally hold up in water, but carry a spare just in case. “Condoms are still very effective, but they can have a higher likelihood of loosening, breaking, or slipping off in water,” said psychologist and sex therapist Kate Balestrieri. “That’s because the dryness that could happen in water puts tension on the condom, so there could be an increased risk of STIs if the condom breaks or falls off.” Use plenty of lube and reapply as needed in order to keep things moving smoothly—and, if you want to completely eliminate your risk of anyone contracting an STI or getting pregnant, focus on acts other than intercourse.
Other health concerns to consider when having underwater sex
Chlorine can irritate the skin—especially the sensitive skin around the genitals and anus—which could cause not only discomfort but also vulvovaginitis (inflammation of the vulvar or vaginal tissue) in those with vulvas, said Eyvazzadeh. Water can even sometimes get trapped in the vagina, which can cause irritation even after you’re out of the water, she added.
In lakes and oceans, one also has to worry about bacteria that could get introduced into the vagina’s delicate ecosystem. “Anything that causes a disruption of the normal flora in the vagina can cause bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections,” said Eyvazzadeh.
Even in man-made water repositories, people can be exposed to certain infections like trichomoniasis, according to OB/GYN Aimee Eyvazzadeh. “Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that has been shown to survive in hot tubs, tap water, and chlorinated swimming pools,” she explained. “These modes of spread are uncommon, but before you have sex in water, you should know this not-so-fun fact.”
Sex in water can also increase your risk for urinary tract infections, said Eyvazzadeh. “Any bacteria introduced into the vagina during water sex can cause this type of infection,” she said. UTIs from sex in water are also a risk for those with penises. If you’re having sex in a bath tub, avoid putting in bubbles, oils, or other bath products, as this can increase your risk of getting a UTI. “Anything that causes friction over the urethra can pass bacteria into the bladder and cause a UTI,” sayd Eyvazzadeh.
Drying off as soon as you get out of the water may lower your risk of contracting certain infections. “Drying off [and] washing with a gentle soap and water could potentially decrease risk of UTIs, but it wouldn't decrease risk of a pelvic infection or vaginal infection,” said Eyvazzadeh.
What to know about privacy and underwater sex
Since most people don’t have access to a completely private pool, Jacuzzi, beach, or lake, being seen by other people is another risk. If someone is spotted having sex in a public body of water, there could be serious consequences. “If you’re sexual in a public space, that can be an arrestable offense,” said Balestrieri. “That can be considered a form of public indecency, and if there are children around, that's an escalated opportunity for legal consequences.” Be really careful about making sure you’re as alone as you think you are if you’re having sex anywhere other than a completely private place. Otherwise, just stick to the privacy of your own shower—or take to dry land, aka, your bed.
If all of this floats your boat, though: Go ride the tides/your partner simultaneously, and remember to keep your head above water! (And, seriously: Be very selective about Jacuzzis.)
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