Is it Safe to Have Sex in the Ocean?

body of water during daytime

People often imagine sexy scenes from movies where two lovers make love by the ocean, and they want to experience that sensuous intimacy for themselves. However, sex in water comes with safety concerns that are not always addressed in the movies.

Drowning, infections, STIs and more are all concerns when having sex in the water. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you decide to go for it:

1. Drowning

Those who choose to have sex in bodies of water like the ocean or pool need to be aware that it can be dangerous. Drowning is a real possibility, and the water could carry parasites that can cause diseases, according to the CDC. In addition, a person’s body’s pH can be disrupted by chlorine and other chemicals found in most pools and hot tubs. This can lead to yeast overgrowth that leads to vaginal itching, pain during sex and abnormal discharge, the CDC says.

Another risk is that sand can irritate the anus and vagina, and the salt in the sea can cause a painful condition called urinary tract infections or cystitis. Some people also may get a penis stuck in their vagina during underwater sex, a condition that’s known as prisoner penis syndrome.

In addition, any time there’s genital-to-genital contact there’s a risk of STIs, and the water doesn’t magically clean sperm or prevent pregnancy, Smith previously told Refinery29. The good news is that there are ways to make the experience safer and more enjoyable.

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2. Bacteria

It’s important to remember that bodies of water can harbor some pretty gross bacteria. Beach sand, in particular, can have 100 times as much fecal bacteria as seawater, according to one study. Having sex at the beach introduces this bacteria into your vagina, which can lead to urinary tract infections and yeast infections. This is also dangerous for couples who want to have penis-in-vagina sex, as the bacteria can also get into your penis and cause irritation.

Adding to the danger is the fact that the water washes away your body’s natural lubrication. This means that having sex in the ocean or swimming pool can be extremely uncomfortable and may actually increase your risk of infection due to micro-abrasions from rubbing against sand, which contains irritating salt.

Using a condom is important for people who are interested in having sex at the beach, but it’s not as effective as you might think. Even if the condom is properly applied, bacteria can enter the vagina through small cracks and holes in the condom. Additionally, the chlorine in a pool may weaken the condom. This could result in it ripping, which can increase the risk of STIs and infection.

3. Infections

Like any body of water, the ocean is not the cleanest place to have sex. It may introduce bacteria into the vagina, which can lead to yeast infections or urinary tract infections, says sexpert Ashley Cobb of Lovehoney.

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The same goes for lakes, rivers, pools and hot tubs, where bacteria can affect a person’s vaginal pH levels, increasing the risk of infection. Plus, water can wash away a person’s natural lubrication, which can cause dryness and make it more difficult to have penetration.

The good news is, you’re not likely to get a STI in the ocean, but you can still get pregnant or have sex that leads to an STI if you don’t use barrier methods (like condoms) and discuss sexual history with your partner. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared, even if you only plan to have sex in the pool. Just be sure to bring waterproof contraception, talk about sexual history and when you last had a STI test, and use inside and outside condoms (worn on the penis and in the vagina, respectively). If you do get sick, take it seriously and see a doctor right away.

4. Inebriation

From the iconic pool sex scenes in Showgirls to the steamy hot tub makeout in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, movies can give you major sexual fantasies about getting it on in the water. But the reality is, sex in the ocean (or even a pool or Jacuzzi) can come with many challenges that don’t always make it onto the silver screen.

One of the biggest obstacles is inebriation. Alcohol can affect your ability to have sex, and it’s easy to fall into the temptation of having a few drinks while you’re enjoying some time in the sun by the water. That means it’s important to always drink responsibly when you’re having sex in the ocean or other body of water.

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In addition, intoxication may increase the likelihood of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy, especially if you’re not using protection. And be sure to bring lube, as the water will wash away both your natural lubrication and store-bought lubricant. Chlorine in the water can also weaken condoms, so check them frequently and remove them after ejaculation.

5. STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called STDs, are spread through fluids that flow during vaginal, oral or anal sex. They can also be spread when a woman passes them to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. STIs can also be spread by sharing infected drug needles or through skin-to-skin contact, including shaking hands.

Some STIs are curable, like syphilis and gonorrhea, while others are incurable, such as herpes and HIV. STDs can cause serious health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility and cancer. They can also increase the risk of transmission of HIV to others and contribute to the spread of AIDS.

STIs can affect anyone but are especially common among teens and young adults who may have many sexual partners or don’t use condoms. You can reduce your risk by using a condom or dental dam during sexual contact, waiting to have sex until you’ve been tested for STIs and getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A and B. You can learn more about preventing and treating STIs by reading the STI Federal Implementation Plan.

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