Q&A: Can Condoms Be Used For Sex In The Water?

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QUESTION: Can condoms be used for sex in the water (pools, showers, hot tubs)?

Latex Condoms 101

Most condoms are made of latex and, while latex is quite stretchy and relatively strong (it rarely breaks during vaginal or anal intercourse), some things weaken latex.

For example, you shouldn’t use petroleum (think Vaseline) or oil-based products (e.g. oil-based lubes, vaginal moisturizers that contain oils, etc) with latex condoms because these substances can weaken latex condoms and make them more likely to break.

Extreme temperatures can also weaken latex, which is why you’ll sometimes hear that you should store condoms at room temperature rather than places like your glove compartment.

Shower/Pool/Hot Tub Sex

Now that you’ve had Latex Condoms 101, let’s apply this to shower/pool/hot tub sex. Water that’s too hot may weaken the latex, or even dry out a woman’s vagina (making intercourse somewhat uncomfortable).

Beware, too, of oil-based products (like some shower cleansers, conditioners or sun tan oils) making contact with latex condoms.

Many Variables

One of the difficulties with condoms and water-sex is that there are so many unpredictable variables. While all FDA-approved condoms meet certain safety criteria, they are intended for sex on the land, not in the sea.

In other words, they’re tested for their ability to stay intact during typical kinds of circumstances involving ejaculation and penetration — not their ability to withstand pool chemicals (like chlorine, which may also damage condoms) or tanning products.

Using Polyurethane Condoms

While using polyurethane condoms may get you around some barriers (they don’t appear to be weakened by oil-based products, for example), you still need to be aware of unpredictable factors that may affect condom safety such as the possibility that if water gets between your penis and the condom, it may cause the condom to slip off.

If shower/pool/hot tub sex is ultimately something you want to explore, perhaps you could indulge in water-based foreplay before drying off and having sex (more safely) on land.

Kinsey Confidential

is a service of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Sexual health experts answer your questions and provide newspaper columns and weekly podcasts.
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