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From Euphoria to The L Word, The Fosters to Empire, TV shows both new and old make it seem like pool sex = the best sex.
“But safe and enjoyable pool sex usually requires way more effort than most are willing to invest in real life,” says Jackie Walters, OB-GYN, star of Married to Medicine and author of “The Queen V: Everything You Need to Know About Sex, Intimacy and Down There Health Care.”
Especially penetrative sex. Read on to learn why — plus how to make the most of non-penetrative poolside play.
We believe pleasure is a fundamental aspect of a safe and healthy sex life. That’s why we rely on experienced writers, educators, and other experts to share their suggestions on everything from the technique you use to the sex toy you buy.
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If someone can hear or see (or heck, smell!) you having sex, they become part of your sexual scene, and so you need their consent.
Accidental or not, if someone stumbles on you frolicking outside of the four walls of your home and didn’t consent ahead of time, it is punishable as a misdemeanor crime.
Nothing screeches sex to a halt quite like sirens and “put your hands in the air.”
So, if you’re dead-set on having sex in a pool or hot tub, avoid doing it in a public pool or hot tub — or semi-public pool, like a community pool in an apartment complex.
“Thinking of sex beyond just the P-in-V is really the only way to have sex in the pool,” says sex toy guru and pleasure expert Carly S., founder of Dildo or Dildon’t.
Her tip? Prioritize non-penetrative sex acts such as:
Use these to bring you maximal pleasure and orgasm. Or to get good and turned on before bopping out of the pool to engage in penetrative play.
As Jackie puts it, “Getting playful on the pool deck (if other people aren’t around) can be just as fun.”
Yep, hot tub (and pool) play can be hot.
Your body is more buoyant in water
Meaning, you and your boo will feel weightless.
“[This] allows you to explore positions that you might not be able to explore otherwise,” says Carly S.
(Don’t have access to a pool? She calls out that sex swings and slings offer a similar benefit on land).
Mix it up
The pool ≠ your bed.
“Any time you switch up where or how you have sex, it’s fills the moment with excitement and novelty,” says Carly S.
The heat could increase your likelihood of orgasming
Fun fact: According to the BBC, researchers discovered that wearing socks — to keep feet warm — increased participants’ ability to achieve an orgasm by 30 percent.
But you don’t need to wear socks in a hot tub for warm feet. Hot tubs, after all, are hot…
It might sound like a stretch, but if you’re constantly freezing, you might actually have an easier time reaching the O-zone in a hot tub than on (air-conditioned) land.
Even the smallest pools or hot tubs are bigger than a King-size bed or the bathtub.
“Space opens up possibilities,” says Carly S. “You can move from here to here to here to here in a way you couldn’t in your bedroom.” True!
“Many vulva-owners experience their first climax courtesy of the shower head,” says Carly S. And jet streams, as she puts it, “are basically just high powered, high pressure, and super direct shower heads.”
So, depending on how you position your body in front of the jet stream and what your body needs to come, the jet streams could help.
There are a lot of risks of underwater sex that might make you want to rethink reenacting your fave steamy pool scene.
Water is drying
The “wetter is better” sexual cliche holds true for both natural lubrication and store-bought lube. But it does *not* apply to the pool or hot tub H2O.
Jackie explains that, although it sounds counterintuitive, water actually washes away lubrication. So any sex that takes place is likely going to be far less slidey and glidey than you’re used to.
“It’s going to feel really sticky and friction-y,” says Jackie.
This friction can cause microtears (or even macrotears) in the oh-so-delicate vaginal or anal lining, which increases the risk of infection, irritation, and pain.
Increased risk of infection
Speaking of infection…
“If chemically treated water gets into the vagina, it can alter the normal pH of the vagina, which increases the risk of vaginal infections like yeast infections,” explains Jackie.
STIs are still a risk
No, chlorine (or salt or whatever chemicals are in your pool) doesn’t kill off sexually transmitted infections (STIs)!
STIs transmitted via skin-to-skin contact or through bodily fluids are still possible, explains Jackie.
Barriers can break or slip
“External latex condoms are likely to slip off when used in the water, and dental dams can easily slip,” says Jackie. “There’s also the possibility of water getting trapped between the barrier and the body, which loosens them, increases the risk of slippage or rips, and thus reduces its effectiveness.”
The high temperature of the hot tub, plus added chlorine, can also deteriorate the barrier.
“And if the barrier is latex, oil-based products often used on the poolside (i.e., sunscreen, bath oils, and body lotions) ruin their effectiveness,” adds Jackie.
Pregnancy is a risk
Contrary to common belief, P-in-V sex in the water carries the risk of pregnancy, just as it does when done on dry land.
(Just FYI: You can’t get pregnant from someone ejaculating into the hot tub. The ejaculation has to occur inside a vagina for pregnancy to be a risk).
Want to try it despite these risks? Keep these tips in mind.
Don’t, if you can’t swim
This should be self-explanatory.
But if you don’t know how to swim, please don’t risk your life by having pool sex.
Keep it legal
While voyeurism and exhibition can be hot, for the sake of your criminal record keep pool play to private pools.
Have a pal (or heck, parent) with a home pool? Ask them if you can borrow their pool for a romantic date night!
Don’t have access to a private pool? Opt for shower or bathtub sex if it’s the ~water element~ that turns you on.
Or, if you’re drawn to the concept of getting caught, consider having sex in a lockable, one-stall bathroom, on a private balcony or rooftop, or in your car in an empty parking lot.
Lube, lube, lube
“If you put a thicker lube on your finger and then submerge them into the water and bring it to your penis, nipples, or clit, it will stay,” says Carly S.
Put the barrier on outside of the pool
“If you’re using a condom, I would recommend placing it on outside of the water,” says Jackie.
And if you’re using a dental dam, she recommends having the receiver of oral sex sit on the ledge of the pool where it may be less likely to slip.
To be very clear: While these precautions help, pool chemicals and poolside products can still reduce the effectiveness of these barriers and make pregnancy and STI transmission risk high.
Bring in a waterproof sex toy
There are toys created specifically for water play, such as:
Because obvi missionary is out.
Have one partner plop their cute peach on the pool ledge while the other performs oral on them. Maybe touching themselves as they do so.
Then, when you’re thoroughly turned on, you can dry off and have penetrative sex (if you want) out of the pool.
Swim and stimulate
“Have one partner wear a vibrator [like the We-Vibe Chorus], while the other partner controls it through a Bluetooth-enabled app from the deck,” suggests Carly S.
Get it? Dry humping… but in water.
“No matter your genitals, humping your partner’s thigh, hand, knee, or bits through their swim suit can provide feel-good pressure,” says Carly S.
Due to the risks, penetrative sex is best saved for the actors. But there are p-l-e-n-t-y of other sex acts that can be enjoyed in and enhanced by the pool or hot tub.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.