Everyone knows shower sex is a little awkward, what with the great potential for falling, slipping and grabbing a wet body for support, or having one of you feel super cold and the other like you're drowning. From getting shampoo in some place you'd rather not, to risking a penis injury, there are a lot more scary possibilities in shower sex than you might realize. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with Karen Elizabeth Boyle, MD, FACS, to get the facts about shower sex dangers, so that "this is weird" will be the only thing you have to worry about.
1. Yes, you can totally get pregnant from shower sex.
While a lot of people might think you can't because the water washes everything away, there is nothing about shower sex that protects against pregnancy. Not only that, but when you type "shower sex" into Google, "shower sex and pregnancy" is the second-most popular autocomplete search phrase (after "shower sex lyrics" for some reason), so clearly there's still some confusion that point. Boyle says, "Using soap and water or washing out the ejaculate once you have had intercourse does not prevent you from getting pregnant at all. Sperm are amazingly resilient and can survive and swim for days in the female reproductive system, so don't make the mistake of counting on water or gravity as a contraceptive."
2. Water is not lube and anything else you use in its place can make things much worse.
Water isn't harmful during sex, but it is not lube and will often wash away one's natural mucus and lubrication. As a result, some people will be tempted to use whatever is handy to replace their normal lubricant (soap, shampoo), but Boyle says those can both cause a lot of irritation to the vulva and vagina, as well as cause dryness of the penile skin. Boyle added, "The vagina has been known to even develop cuts and tears from the non-lubricated penetration, which could mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection, cause vaginitis, and the change in pH to the vaginal skin can attract all of those little microbes near the rectum to travel up the woman's urethra, causing a greater risk for real UTI or kidney infection."
3. Falling isn't the only way you could get hurt.
Between the weirdo positions you're pretty much forced to get into when you're having shower sex, coupled with everything being slippery in the shower, your chances of his penis bending in in a weird angle are easily greater than in just about any other location. Boyle says if that happens, "men can actually risk fracturing their penis if the penis bends or snaps during a strange sexual position, resulting in the penis become very swollen and bruised, and requiring an awkward trip to the ER to avoid serious damage to the penis."
4. Yes, you can still totally get an STI (and it might even up your chances).
"Can you get an STD in the shower" is another popular Google search term and I can see why it would be. Again, the idea that water washes away everything is a nice idea, but Boyle says, "Shower sex is not protective against the transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, condyloma, HIV, or any other disease. In fact, with possible irritation of the vulva and penis occurring during shower sex, skin can get more raw and irritated, which could actually increase the risk of transmission of some diseases."
5. Condoms are potentially less effective in the shower.
Obviously wearing one is better than having zero protection, but you shouldn't rely on this as your only form of contraception in the shower, and without one, you have no prevention against the spread of disease. According to the Lifestyles condoms website, it's safe to use a condom in water "as long as the condom remains on the penis." Unfortunately, Boyle says condoms have a greater likelihood of slipping when wet, and a condom can't be as effective as it needs to be if it's not even on. Lifestyles' site recommends to put the condom on before you get in the shower and to note that "if the water contains chemicals such as chlorine or additives such as bath oil or bubble bath, it may harm a latex condom." While the odds of bubble bath shooting from your showerhead are slim, it's important to note, just in case your bathroom ever becomes a cartoon.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.