Below, I unpack some of the most common urban legends, exploring everything from whether or not you need protection underwater to why, exactly, you feel a bit randier when things heat up. Let's get down...to it.
Discover the truth about 5 summertime sex myths that get around.
Myth #1: Sex in the water is awesome
Reality check: You know the phrase, "water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink"? Well, that's sort of how your vagina feels when submerged in H2O. "If water enters the vagina, it can flush out or alter the natural lubricants," says Sara Twogood, MD, an OBGYN at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.
To keep things, er, fluid, sexologist Jess O’Reilly (who goes by Dr. Jess) recommends using a specific type of lubricant because water-based versions can also wash way. "Silicone-based lubes can stay slippery underwater and keep the condom lubricated, too," she says. In what might be bummer news for folks who like to be spontaneous with their X-rated swims, Dr. Twogood says you should apply lubricants before you make your way into the water for best results.
Underwater protection, meanwhile, appears to be a more slippery proposition. "I’m not aware of any condom companies specifically testing condoms for use underwater, and some do warn against use in pool and hot tubs, as it’s possible that the chemicals in the water could compromise the integrity of the condom," Dr. Jess explains.
With that said, she recommends their use regardless. "If you’re going to have sex underwater, it’s better to use a condom than to 'go bareback.' Condoms reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STI transmission," she says. If you're wearing sunscreen or oil when passion strikes, Dr. Jess recommends showering before applying the condom because such products can weaken the integrity of latex. (Strike two for wet 'n wild abandon.)
One more potential buzzkill: Leena S. Nathan, MD, an assistant clinical professor in the UCLA Health Department of OBGYN, cautions against doing the deed in any natural body of water. "There is potential for infection, particularly vaginal infections," she says. Dr. Twogood adds that ocean- and lake-water can be irritating because of the salt, sand, and other debris. And man-made bodies of water are no better. "Hot tubs and pools are likely to have bacteria and chemicals like chlorine," she explains, noting that public pools and hot tubs are even riskier than private ones. (Yeah, gross for everyone involved!)
Verdict: Not worth the risk.
Myth #2: Ditto for sex on the beach (the act, not the drink)
Getting busy in the dunes is another romantic trope that's only sexy on The Bachelor. "If sand is near the penis or vagina, it can cause abrasions during intercourse," Dr. Nathan says. While these can be painful and cause irritation, there's a bigger issue. "They may be visible or microscopic, but either way, abrasions and tears do make a woman more susceptible to STIs," she says. "Sand could also compromise the integrity of condoms."
Plus, sex on the beach—or in a public body of water, for that matter—could technically be considered a crime and is punishable by various means depending on your state. (If you happen to live in Minnesota, you could get hit with a second slap on the wrist if you're not married—it's technically illegal there for a single woman to have sex...period.)
Verdict: As Dr. Jess says, "sand isn't sexy." (Neither is Minnesota's archaic law, but that's another story for another day.)
Myth #3: Tans are sexy
A very small study was done in 2010 to determine whether people actually rated women with a tan as more attractive than those without. They did.
Ignoring the elephant in the room—your skin is beautiful as is!—there's good news here for those looking to create a golden glow without overexposing themselves to UV rays. Apparently, scientists have also found that people ranked the healthy aura that comes from eating vegetables, AKA "the carotenoid glow," as more attractive than that which comes from the sun. So, slather on the SPF, stock your shopping cart with carotenoid-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, tomato juice, pumpkin, spinach, and broccoli, or test out this clean self-tanner and these bronzers to achieve a beach-bum tan this summer.
Verdict: Yep, particularly when they come from carrots.
Myth #4: Your libido skyrockets in the summer...
According to Dr. Jess, there are a number of reasons why you might experience a boost in sex drive in the summer. For starters, people tend to be more social due to the warm weather and longer days, and that can have steamy consequences. "It’s possible that positive social interactions lead to greater feelings of connection and intimacy—and a stronger desire for sex," she hypothesizes. Plus, she says, people report improving health habits during the summer, and such habits, e.g. exercise and a balanced diet, can increase sex drive, body image, and sexual functioning.
What does the science say? Dr. Jess notes that sunlight is associated with elevated serotonin levels, which can result in a better mood, more energy, and a heightened desire for sex. Some research, she says, also suggests that sweat can increase attraction. "When we couple this with showing more skin, it’s possible that our desire for sex can increase as the mercury rises," she says.
Verdict: It's definitely possible.
Myth #5: ...but it's too hot to have sex
While sweat can be, as established above, an aphrodisiac, sometimes it can feel too hot to move, let alone, well, you know.
You don't have to layer two sweaty bodies one atop the other in order to enjoy a good romp, however. "Any position that allows you to stand beside the bed or use furniture as props works well during hot summer days and nights," says Dr. Jess. Plus, she advises, there's no reason to get hung up on intercourse. "The greater the variety of sexual activities you engage in, the more satisfaction you’ll reap."
Below, Dr. Jess shares some of her favorite positions for those times you're literally and figuratively on fire.
Bend over, baby
Both partners stand one behind the other facing the bed. The front partner folds over so that their torso is on the bed and their legs are against its side. The other partner approaches from behind while upright.
One partner sits in a chair and the other squats in their lap. You can face away and bend over to grab your ankles or sit atop face-to-face for kissing and intimate eye contact.
One partner lies on the edge of the bed and the other stands facing them with their feet on the floor. The partner on the bed lifts their legs so that their feet are on the standing partner’s shoulders.
Verdict: You can handle the heat.
Want even better sex this summer? Try doing this one thing every morning, make a quick study of these five tantra techniques, and eat these foods.
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