As the days stretch deep into the night, there’s a lot of fun to be had, and not only in the bedroom. According to research conducted by Dr. Elaine Hatfield, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii, the third-most highly rated way to improve anyone’s sex life is to experiment more, and in the hot months of summer, what better way to experiment than to change up the environment, à la The Shape of Water.
No, we’re not talking mermen (necessarily; no kink-shaming here!), we’re talking about sex down where it’s wetter –– under the sea. Or lake. Or even your apartment-size bathtub, assuming you can squeeze two (or more!) people in.
“Water can provide a unique atmosphere of intimacy,” says Dr. Juliana Morris, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Be Your Own (S)expert, tells SheKnows. “It adds a variety of location that a typical routine of sex in a bed can’t provide. It’s fun and important to change things by having sexual intimacy in [different] locations. Water can also provide an environment that stimulates different sensations.”
Plus, she notes, “For those who are differently abled or have medical issues triggered by weight or are challenged by muscle pressure, water –– especially pools and baths or showers with a sitting area –– can provide greater mobility, pain relief and sexual position options that land cannot.”
Of course, it’s definitely not as easy or challenge-free as we might see reflected in pop culture. Even though we see plenty of images of people having passionate, hot sex in water throughout media, the reality of getting it on in the water doesn’t always match up, Morris says. “There are, though, some really wonderful things to experience while having sex in water despite some experiences that don’t reflect movie expectations,” she adds.
And if you’re concerned about whether or not sex underwater is healthy, Dr. Ana Cepin, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SheKnows that there’s not much to worry about.
“There’s shouldn’t be any health risk as long as the water you’re in is clean. It’s more just a matter of comfort.” she explains. Cepin also goes on to remind aquatic adventurers to make sure to still use protection against STIs and unwanted pregnancy, noting, “Water’s not birth control.”
So, assuming we find a clean body of water to occupy and we remember to stay safe, we asked Morris, “What do we need to know as we prepare to dive in?”
Regardless of how, where and with whom you’re having sex, remember that lube is your friend — both on dry land and in the water.
“Contrary to what would seem obvious, water does not work as a great lubricant for the vulva and vaginal canal or for condoms,” Morris explains. “In fact, there can be a drying effect that can cause micro-abrasions. The micro-tears can also make the vaginal canal susceptible to STIs or bacterial or yeast infections.”
Ouch! So, how do you prevent them?
“Best way to prevent [micro-tears] is to use silicone lubrication; water-based lubes can wash away easily and oil-based lubes aren’t good for [latex or polyisoprene] condoms if you are using them,” she adds.
While water itself isn’t an effective form of birth control, Morris says that condoms do work in the water — especially in showers. Just make sure the condom is the right size.
“You need to make sure of fit if submerged in water like a hot tub, lake or bath, but with the right fit and periodic check in, condoms can and should be used in water if they are used on land,” Morris explains.
And with all that extra moisture, maybe bubbles and silicone lube?
“Be careful not to slip,” Morris warns. “It’s a serious passion-kill if you knock yourself out or catch a knee on the bathtub.”
Get creative & stay communicative
And as with any other type of sex, communication is key.
“To make sex in water the most enjoyable for all, communicate about it and through it,” Morris advises. “Manage expectations, and if [you’re] trying it for the first time or trying new things, [then] take on an attitude of fun, curiosity and adventure with it.”