This story is part of our Dog Days Survival Guide, a collection of essays, recommendations and how-tos to help you get through the hottest days of the year.
If a certain rapper of early-aughts fame is to be believed, extreme heat presents the perfect opportunity to take off all your clothes.
Presumably, Nelly meant this in a sexy way. But in times of temperatures so oppressive stripping is the only appropriate course of action, how much do any of us really still want to touch each other once we’ve taken off all our clothes? While we tend to associate heat with sexiness in a figurative sense — which will definitely be the source of several more puns throughout this article — how hot can sex really be when a literal late-August heatwave is involved?
For many of us, the hottest days of the year tend not to be our sexiest, particularly if you’re weathering the summer sans air conditioning.
“I can recall a really hot summer without AC in my apartment when I was in graduate school. I most definitely did not want to be touched!” says Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., sexpert for sex-toy brand LELO and author of the books Becoming Cliterate and A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex. “I could barely stand being with myself, let alone someone else.”
In fact, Mintz adds, there is even research to suggest that high temperatures tend to result in fewer births nine months later. “Most people don’t want to be touched when they are hot, sweaty and uncomfortable,” she tells InsideHook. “This is a turn-off for an overwhelming majority of people.”
But while the idea of sweating it out with a partner on the hottest days of the year may not be a turn-on for most, there is a chance that sweltering summer temps could actually put some people in the mood. According to Mintz, more exposure to sunlight and vitamin D during the summer months can increase levels of testosterone and other “feel-good” hormones that can boost sex drive, while the general lack of clothing and amount of bare skin readily on display throughout the season have a tendency to put sex to the forefront of people’s summertime states of mind.
So if you’re someone whose sex drive goes up when the temperature and humidity levels do, here are some expert tips on how to stay cool during hot sex.
If you have AC, use it
And keep that baby set to a nice 69 degrees. No, really, I’m not even joking. According to sexologist Tyomi Morgan, that’s the ideal temperature for a satisfying sex session.
“It can be difficult for men to maintain erections when their bodies become overheated,” says Morgan. “If you want to ensure penetrative sex will last longer, keep the room at a good 69 degrees.”
No AC? Try having sex in front of a fan, “or even a breezy open window,” suggests Mintz, adding that window-front sex “could be a turn-on for the exhibitionist types.”
Remember car sex?
You may not have AC, but your car probably does, which could make the hottest days of the year the ideal time to rediscover the adolescent art of car sex.
“A quick romp in the car (outside of the garage or with the garage door opened for safety, of course) could do the trick!” says Mintz.
Bonus points if one of you is driving the car.
Water is your friend
“Shower sex is great because you don’t get all sweaty and digusting,” says sexologist Gigi Engle, Promescent brand advisor and author of All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life.
And while Mintz adds that shower sex often fails to live up to the hype — “think slippery and/or cramped quarters” — she concedes that running a cool shower or bath may be the best way to go during a heatwave. Just don’t forget the lube, and maybe a waterproof sex toy or two.
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Whether or not you’re planning to go the shower sex route, hopping in the shower both before and after sex is always a good idea, especially when you’re anticipating a particularly sweaty session.
“For pre-sex, taking a lukewarm shower is a great way to get clean, stay cool and engage in foreplay,” says Morgan. “Taking a cool shower post-sex can help with washing away sweat and bacteria as well as cooling down the body to return to a resting state.”
Put your sheets in the freezer
Actually though, just put your sheets in the freezer. “Then make the bed, and have at it,” Mintz suggests.
Speaking of sheets, you’re definitely going to want to wash them after, whether you chilled them first or not.
“In humid weather it can take a while for them to dry and you don’t want to climb into bed and have damp sheets, because that’s super gross,” says Engle.
Ice, ice baby
Instead of fighting the temperature, why not play with it, a la Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks?
“I always suggest trying temperature play,” says Engle. “You can use ice cubes and run them all over your partner’s body. This way you stay cool and hot at the same time.”
Morgan agrees. “Playing with ice during foreplay is a fun and sexy way to stay cool during the warm months,” she says. “Grab a bowl with a few cubes and use them to trace around your partner’s erogenous zones. Trace the neck, nipples, lips, belly and pelvic region. Use your breath to blow on the water trails to further cool your partner down.”
Sometimes, the hottest sex of all is sex that does not actually involve touching each other. This also happens to be a particularly COVID-friendly option, by the way.
So how exactly does one have sex without touching their partner? Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of mutual masturbation.
“Try ‘touchless sex.’ Talk about your fantasies and masturbate side by side,” says Mintz.
Mutual masturbation can be surprisingly hot. But if intercourse is a must, Mintz recommends sticking to positions that minimize physical contact. Standing sex, “especially near a cool wall,” is a good option. And of course, nothing beats doggy style in the dog days.
A lot of what I knew about sex as a child came from The Sims — something I can only imagine is probably true of many people who came of age in the aughts. The year 2004 saw the release of The Sims 2, and in addition to a slew of new features that rendered the original life-simulation game rudimentary by comparison, your Sims could now fuck — or “WooHoo,” as the game euphemized it.
In the earliest version of the WooHoo feature, your Sims could get it on in two main places: a bed or a hot tub. This was how I, a 10-year-old whose parents had gifted me the game unaware that the sequel included this racy new element, learned that people could and presumably did have sex in hot tubs. In the game, two Sims having sex in a hot tub would first cuddle, then kiss, then pull each other under the water, disappearing beneath the surface of the rollicking waves except for the occasional glimpse of flailing limbs. They’d splash around under the water for a bit before an eruption of fireworks welcomed them back to the surface, where they’d cuddle together again in a state of post-coital bliss.
As anyone who has ever attempted to have sex in a hot tub knows — “attempted” being an operative word here — this is not quite how it usually goes. Even beyond the more obvious inaccuracies, The Sims’ version of hot tub sex is unrealistic for a much more pressing reason: hot tub sex is not good. In fact, it’s barely even possible.
“If you and your partner are submerged in a hot tub, the answer is no, hot tub sex can really never be that good,” says Zachary Zane, a sex advice columnist and sex expert for Promescent. Not unlike road head, hot tub sex falls into the category of novelty sex — a bucket-list sex act which, while surrounded by plenty of sexual lore and cultural reference points, is rarely as fun, satisfying or even logistically possible as it might seem.
“The allure of hot tub sex is really fantasy-based,” says Davia Frost, sex coach, educator and founder of Frosted Pleasure. “Resorts and hotels put them in rooms to aid in the romantic ambience,” she adds, though even that ambience seems to belong to an increasingly dated and tawdry era of sexuality. Like the sexual associations that first popularized — then obliterated — the waterbed, the midcentury fascination with hot tub sex that saw the Poconos-based rise of the heart-shaped jacuzzi has long since fallen out of fashion.
Moreover, having sex in water presents certain obstacles that having sex on it does not. Hot tub sex belongs to a specific yet relatively large subgenre of novelty sex: aquatic sex. From shower sex to pool sex to ocean sex, we seem enthralled by the idea of having sex in water — despite the fact that it almost never goes well.
“Underwater sex is never good — doesn’t matter if you’re submerged in an ocean, lake, or hot tub,” says Zane, explaining that there are a few logistical obstacles working against water-based intercourse. For one thing, “You can’t quite get the momentum you want when you’re thrusting underwater,” he explains. Meanwhile, the cruel irony of underwater sex is that water actually washes away a vagina’s natural lubricant. As Zane puts it, “You’d think you have a WAP underwater, but in actuality, you get a DAP.” This is bad for both vulva-havers and penetrators. “I learned this the hard way,” Zane admits. “The first and only time I had underwater sex in a hot tub I was 19 and very drunk at a party. All of us were having sex outside, and I had sex with this woman in the tub. The next day, it was like my penis had a rug burn.”
This tracks, according to Tatyannah King, a sex blogger and sex therapist-in-training at the Widener University Center for Human Sexuality Studies. “Any sex that takes place in a hot tub without any lube will create a sensation with friction rather than a smooth glide each stroke,” says King. Moreover, she adds, “The friction caused by chemical-filled water may create microtears in the vaginal or anal canal, which increases the risk of infection, irritation and pain.”
This is why, if you still happen to have your heart set on hot tub sex, Frost recommends sticking to “any position that keeps the genitals out of the actual water.” For Frost, this usually means limiting hot tub sex to foreplay: “You know, ki
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