“I’ve heard that having sex in water stops you getting pregnant.”
We get why you’re keen on the idea. There’s nothing more romantic than being away in some far-flung holiday destination, making love in a hotel suite jacuzzi or, if you’re feeling really daring, in the sea just as the setting sun eases behind the horizon.¹ Depending where you are, sharks and jellyfish could be one of the risks you need to consider (not in the jacuzzi, of course) and an interruption from the local police for having sex in a public place is another. But, for the purposes of this article, when we talk about safe sex, the only two threats we’re referring to are unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So, before you get yourselves into trouble, let’s take a look at the facts.
If anything, a woman is more, not less, likely to get pregnant having sex in the pool or in the ocean. That’s because some of the best contraceptives on dry land can be less reliable under water.¹ The effectiveness of sponges, diaphragms and cervical caps can all be compromised during sex under water. Even with condoms, you need to be aware of the possible damaging effect of pool chemicals, the increased chances of breakage in the higher temperatures of a jacuzzi and the dangers of the rubber slipping off the end of the willy.¹
What Durex say
Durex, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of condoms, offers an additional word of warning: “As far as we are aware, no research has been carried out into the performance of condoms when they are used underwater. It is possible that the risk of slippage, for example, might increase when used in such circumstances. Whilst salt in seawater would not have adverse effects on condom materials there is a strong possibility that the chemicals used in swimming pools (chlorine and ozone, for example) would.”¹ That’s not very encouraging news for water babies who don’t want to have babies of their own. But, if you’re a glass half-full kind of person, then the ocean could definitely be the place to head when you and your partner are trying for a baby!
The way our bodies are designed means that women are more likely to pick up infections during a romp under water than men. Water itself does not present any particular health problems during sex, but what’s in the water might.¹ Salty sea water, chlorine-filled pool water, or bacteria-rich hot tub water can all be forced into the vagina during sex, and this could lead to irritation or infection.¹ The added issue of sexual friction (due to less lubrication caused by the water simply washing it away) can result in micro-tears inside the vagina. These tears provide a direct route for infections to enter. They can also increase the chances of catching a sexually transmitted disease.¹ Having underwater sex in the cool fresh water of a mountain lake can also present problems, beyond the effect the cold water might have to his manhood. While there are no issues with salty water, chemicals or chlorine, there’s a risk of harmful bacteria in lakes, ponds and rivers. These can cause a urinary tract infection.¹