When Summer Sex Goes Wrong

Illustrated By Ly Ngo
Summer flings are the best kind of romance. This is why we suffer through ever other season: for the chance to shed our un-sexy layers and find that perfect partner to share the longer, sunnier days and sultry summer nights. But, while summer lovin’ may be a blast, it can come with its fair share of libido-killers — from getting sand in ungodly places to dealing with the most unpleasant of body odors. Still, there’s no reason you should let the negatives of hot summer sex outweigh the oh-so-amazing positives. Here’s how you can avert the most uncomfortable of summer-sex mishaps and get the most out of the season — before it’s gone.
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Illustrated By Ly Ngo
Sex On The Beach

That perfect, secluded spot on the beach may seem like the ideal place for a quickie, but if one speck of sand ends up down your bikini bottom, that romantic hideaway can quickly go from erotic to horrific. So, save spontaneity for another day; plan your beach adventure ahead of time and pack accordingly. “The better-equipped you are, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the moment,” advises sex and relationship therapist Kimberly Sharky, LMFT, CST. “The bigger the blanket, the less likely you are to get sand all over the place. And, bring a bottle of water to wash yourself off afterward.”

But, even the best-laid schemes of men and women go awry. So, how should you deal if you do the deed on a too-small towel and wind up with sand in your vagina? “There’s nothing dangerous about it other than the discomfort,” assures gynecologist Leah Millheiser, MD, assistant clinical professor at Stanford University Medical Center and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program. She suggests jumping in the water or soaking in the tub afterward to wash away the irritant. Make sure to hold off on having sex again until that sand’s out of there, though — otherwise you could end up causing minor tears in the vaginal walls. “Your body naturally sheds cells with vaginal discharge, so sand will come out on its own over time,” says Dr. Millheiser. “I don’t recommend douching to try to speed up this process.” Since douching removes your body’s natural, good-for-you bacteria and messes with your vaginal pH, you could actually be doing more harm than good.
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Illustrated By Ly Ngo
Wet & Wild

Having sex in a hot tub can be downright disastrous. “Because of the heat, a poorly maintained hot tub may contain bacteria, which can cause vaginal infection,” says Dr. Millheiser. She adds that the health risks in other bodies of water, however, are relatively minimal.

But, just because it’s safe to fool around in the pool or ocean doesn’t mean it will necessarily be fun, especially if you’re attempting penetration. While you may think of water as moisturizing, sex beneath the waves can actually wash away your vagina’s natural lubrication, making all that rubbing difficult and uncomfortable. Plus, penetration without lube can cause tears in the vaginal walls, which will be especially painful if you’re submerged in saltwater. “To counteract this effect,” Dr. Millheiser says, “use a silicone-based lubricant around the vagina or on the penis; [it] should stay on even under the water.”

Sharky adds that you may have more fun playing with the sensuality of water without the expectation of penetration. Another option: “Use that non-conventional location for foreplay, then move somewhere else for intercourse. Challenge yourself to keep the sexual energy going until you reach that place.” Dr. Millheiser also points out a common misconception about underwater sex: “It’s not a natural form of contraception,” she says. “Those who think it washes sperm away are mistaken.”
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What’s That Smell?

It’s not always sexy to catch a whiff of yourself after a day in the sun — especially if that odor is coming from your vagina. But, how can you tell if that smell is normal summertime sweatiness or something more serious?

“If it’s a new odor that you haven’t noticed before, pay attention to if you’re also having unusual discharge,” says Dr. Millheiser. “If so, get evaluated by a physician to make sure you don’t have an infection.” It’s also worth getting checked by a doctor if you notice the smell when you’re fresh from the shower.

If you’re given the medical all-clear but are still bothered by a down-there scent, pack your purse with extra pairs of clean, cotton underwear that you can change into throughout the day. “The key is to stay dry, which gets harder the more you walk around sweating,” says Dr. Millheiser, who also recommends changing out of wet bathing-suit bottoms ASAP. (Contrary to myth, wearing wet bottoms all day won’t cause infection, but can intensify un unpleasant smell.)

Again, douching is not the answer. Spraying perfume around your vulva can also make things worse or cause infection. Just wash your external genitals gently in the shower with "a really mild, non-astringent variety” of soap, Dr. Millheiser says. Sharky recommends incorporating a shower into your summertime pre-sex ritual, using soaping up your partner’s body as foreplay.

Ultimately, it’s important not to let the occasional smelliness put a damper on your sex life. “Everyone gets a little stinky when it’s really hot; it’s just part of summer,” Sharky says. “Realize that your partner is probably worrying about it less than you think… And, the griminess of sex can actually make it even more erotic.”
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Illustrated By Ly Ngo
Bikini-Line Blues

During bathing-suit season, it can feel like the pressure is on to keep your bikini line perfectly coiffed (or not — you do you). But, waxing and shaving come with a whole slew of potential libido killers, from un-sexy stubble to painful red bumps. And, tight clothes and sweat will make crotch-centered skin irritations worse.

Dr. Millheiser says she’s actually seeing a comeback of the natural look, but for those who do choose to remove their pubic hair, certain issues often come with the territory. “Many women have a problem with acne in that area, and wax can just exacerbate it,” says Dr. Millheiser. “For those women, laser hair removal is often a better option. And, if you're prone to inflamed ingrown hairs, waxing is better than shaving.” She also recommends keeping an eye on your aesthetician during your next wax; if she’s double-dipping that stick, she could be spreading bacteria and making the problem worse.

You should also be careful of the products you use on your bikini area. “Sometimes, products that work on the rest of your body won’t work on delicate bikini-line skin,” warns Sharky. “Stay away from fragrance and parabens.” And, if the problem doesn’t go away, see a dermatologist, who can give you medication to treat those sensitive areas.

If you’re still embarrassed by your bikini line’s appearance when meeting your summer fling on the beach, invest in a sexy sarong as a temporary solution. “You can cover up certain parts while showing off the rest,” says Sharky, who reiterates that, just like summertime smells, unwanted hair and the occasional skin imperfection are things your partner probably won’t notice once you’re getting down to business. “Being preoccupied by the state of your body can keep you from being as aroused as you should be. If you can let go, be in the moment, and just enjoy the experience, nothing else will matter.”

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