The Real Risks of Sex Under Water

There is an old, vague, but persistent rumor that sex under water is dangerous.  It’s one of those things you might have some memory of hearing about sometime, a while back, you can’t remember where.  You might also recognize that the lack of details and fuzzy source material are hallmarks of any good urban legend.  But it may still keep you from trying it.  Which it turns out, for reasons that have nothing to do with danger, is not a bad thing.

The threat of danger is usually connected to intercourse under water, and the story goes that somehow having intercourse under water could lead to air or water being forced into the vagina at such a force that it could cause what is usually described as an embolism (for the whiff of authority that accompanies any word that sounds medical).  It’s hard to know where or how this rumor started., which bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” has a message board thread from 2002 about it.

But most references online link to an entry on Columbia University’s sexual health website, Go Ask Alice.  Back in 2001 “Alice” responded to this question, which wasn’t about sex under water at all, but instead about blowing into the vagina during oral sex.  That article states that there have been a handful of cases where it seems as if blowing with great force into a vagina can cause an air embolism resulting in death.

  In the few published case studies I read (the first of which was published in 1943) the woman was pregnant and in the last trimester.  It’s not clear how much force would be required, but it is clear that this is hardly a significant risk of oral sex or any other kind of sex (except I suppose if the sex included inserting an air hose into ones vagina).

Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find any accounts of intercourse underwater causing death.  Which is not to say that intercourse under water is such a good idea.  The real risks have to do with bad sex:

Water Is Not Contraception

As contraception writer Dawn Stacey explains in some detail having sex in water can be bad for some contraception efforts you may rely on to make sure that sex, wherever you have it, doesn’t result in an unintended pregnancy.  Using a condom under water will probably increase the chances of that condom breaking which means no protection against pregnancy and also no protection against STDs.  So if you’re going to have sex under water you should be thinking about safer sex underwater too.  

Slippery When Wet?  Not Always

Sex under water is a little like sex in a waterbed.  Both seem like great idea in theory, but in practice both significantly limit your options.  Water may be slippery when it’s under foot on a tile floor, or rushing down a water slide.  But it offers practically no lubrication for sex.    Less lubrication can lead to more friction which can easily lead to irritation and pain.  Maybe having to slow things down will be a good thing, but just like the waterbed which affords no support and therefore few options for movement and leverage, sex under water can be less romantic and exotic and more a (literal and figurative) pain. 

One way to fix this particular hardship is to bring silicone lubricant along for your next wild water adventure.  Apply it to your bodies first, and when you get in the water it doesn’t break down right away (like water based lubes do). Just be careful as it stays on your hands too, and if you’re using those to stay afloat, you could more easily slip!

Irritation Meet Bacteria

Pools and hot tubs have chlorine, oceans have salt water, rivers and lakes have all manner of living things (and don’t get me started on the lochs).  Having sex under water can be more irritating to your tender bits, and irritation can be an invitation for bacterial infection. There may be times when you want sex that feels rough and raw.  My suggestion is that you choose to be out of the water on dry land (or at least on a boat) when that mood strikes.

…And Now, the Good News

Under water sex with girls is mostly ill advised when the sex you are having includes intercourse.  The good news (and if this is news to you, be prepared to have your mind blown) is that sex is much more than intercourse.  There are dozens, maybe hundreds of things you can do in the water to give and receive intense sexual pleasure that don’t involve putting one thing all the way into another thing.  So if you’re keen to turn your aquatic fantasies into a reality the possibilities do exist.  You just need to plan ahead a bit.