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A handy guide to sex in the great outdoors

A handy guide to sex in the great outdoors

Don’t let these deliciously hot summer days go by without baring your ass to the elements! Sex outdoors can be thrilling and hot, hot, HOT! Success includes avoiding bugs, cleaning up your mess, and not getting caught.

Does a bear sh*t in the woods?Is your outdoor sexy space a field in the woods? A secluded beach? A desert oasis? A cool, clear mountain lake?

Before stripping down and getting it on, be aware of your surroundings, and although you’ll probably make enough noise to scare away large animals, plants and insects don’t mind a little screaming. You’ll want to check to make sure that the plants you are frolicking in are not poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. Keep an eye out for prickly plants, too – cacti, stinging nettles, and thistles. A little research in advance will save you a lot of pain later; nothing kills the mood faster than a scrotum full of stinging nettles.

But maybe you aren’t high in the mountains and are getting down in the sandy surf instead. Aside from the abrasiveness of sand on your most sensitive body parts, you need to keep an eye out for jellyfish and other assorted sea creatures that will sting you or stab you if you disturb their space. After reading this, you may decide to skip sex in the ocean and opt for a lake instead. If you are wading in, be sure to swim well away from the shore to avoid leeches and the bacteria that lives in shallower, warmer water. If you are not a great swimmer, I recommend a life vest to help you float so you don’t drown while trying to enjoy some sex play.

The final category of awareness you need is for the stingers and biters on land. Mosquitoes, scorpions, bees, wasps, ticks, and snakes, to name a few. Bring and use bug repellent or set up a tent to keep the biters away. If you are in an area where snakes are prevalent (do your research ahead of time), be mindful in tall grasses, avoid crevices and/or caves, and steer clear of rocks. Same for scorpions.

While I have your attention, I am going to take a moment to dispel the myth of the spiky candiru. There is a story about a tiny catfish that will swim up your urethra if you go swimming in your birthday suit. It is mentioned by Sean Connery in the movie “The Medicine Man,” and the Internet is swimming with stories. There is one disputed case of a candiru being surgically removed from a person’s urethra after they peed in the Amazon River. Even if it is a true story, it is the only incident on record. So feel free to swim naked in the Amazon; the candiru won’t bother you – although I’d be more worried about the giant snakes and fish with mouthfuls of razor-sharp teeth.

I almost forgot! Keep an eye out for scat. The next mood killer after nettles in the scrotum is rolling around in a big pile of animal shit.

Hygiene is your friendBefore touching anyone’s genitals, you should wash your hands, no matter where you are, because it is the polite and sanitary thing to do.

When you are outdoors, you want to go above and beyond, especially if you are outdoors for an extended amount of time. An afternoon quickie off your favorite hiking trail is not a big deal, but if you are camping, rafting, mountaineering for several days – i.e. away from a shower and medical care – you need to make a concerted effort to clean up before and after sex. Penis owners are less likely to develop yeast infections or urinary tract infections because of the anatomical make-up of their bodies. Vulva owners, on the other hand, have anatomy that requires a specific pH balance to remain healthy and fight off infections. The vagina does this all on its own; however, anything that doesn’t belong in the vagina, like dirt, sand, water, a dirty toy, a dirty penis, or a dirty finger can change that pH.

Wash hands and genitals with body friendly soaps. No douching, please! There are genital friendly wipes that pack nicely for just this purpose. Also, cotton or breathable undies, always! If you are a penis owner and you plan on inserting that penis into someone else’s body, please use a condom. Condoms make for easy clean up, they add a layer of protection from dirt and sexually transmitted infections (duh!), and your partner doesn’t have to lay in the wet spot in their sleeping bag.

Don’t forget to pee after sex. Holding pee in your bladder breeds bacteria, and then you’re dealing with a UTI on top of a 14,000-foot peak.

Pack a sex first aid kitMy hope is that you always have a first aid kit for any outdoor adventures. If not, any outdoor gear store has pre-made kits you can buy. Unfortunately, no one is making pre-packaged sex first aid kits, yet. Here’s my suggested DIY list:

– Dental dam or saran wrap* for oral play - vulva & anal

– Condoms

– Oral sex: swallow, don’t spit

– Tissues for clean up

– Cleansing wipes

– Plastic bags or wet bag to pack out your bodily fluids

– Lube

– Insect repellent

– Benadryl

– Towel or hospital pad in the sleeping bag

– Washcloth

– Latex gloves

– Breath mints

– Monistat

– Aloe vera

– Contraception

*Saran wrap does NOT protect against STIs, but it’s still great in these situations for fluid management and clean up.

A little note on exhibitionism, voyeurism, and the lawFor some, it can be thrilling and a major turn on to be watched having sex or to watch others having sex. The excitement of being caught in the act drives some people to have sex in public or on well-traveled trails. As always, I encourage partners to communicate if this is a turn on and agree together what they will do. There are safe spaces to practice both exhibitionism and voyeurism that are indoors, have a specific set of rules, and can help ensure everyone’s safety.

If you are going to have sex outdoors, you should be aware of the laws and what kind of trouble you could get into if caught. In Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, indecent exposure (being naked outside in front of others) is a misdemeanor. In New Mexico, a conviction comes with required counseling. In Colorado, if convicted, you are required to register as a sex offender.

Coming homeYou’ve enjoyed some time outdoors and with some planning and research you got your rocks off, too! Please take time to leave no trace. Clean up wrappers, condoms, and anything else you brought with you. The plastic bag or wet bag that you brought is a great place to stash all of these leftovers.

I mentioned earlier to contain fluids, and this is a step you can take to lessen your impact on the native wildlife in the area. Shooting your bodily goodness all over an area can attract animals. They’ll probably be fine, but there is no reason you can’t contain yourself. Be aware of your surroundings, be mindful of others, be prepared, and be pleasured.

Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com