Knowing the Risks When Getting Down Outdoors
It's important to recognize there are risks when it comes to having sex outdoors.
Nudity has been criminalized to various degrees around the world, and this is only exacerbated when sexual acts come into play. Take the U.S. for instance. In some states and counties, it could be seen as illegal to be naked in public spaces (most times it’s called indecent exposure), and depending on who reports it, how someone interprets the activity (as in, whether they view it as obscene or not), and how much personal privilege you hold—it could be written off with a verbal warning or possibly escalated to a citation or arrest.
You might be reading this and feel completely unbothered by the risk. However, it’s important to acknowledge that feeling this way is an immense privilege because for many, taking on the risk of encountering law enforcement to have outdoor sex is not a worthy trade-off. For this reason, being on the same page as your partner(s) and keeping things discrete is critical. You can also research local and state laws in advance of your adventure to better understand what the potential risks actually are.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs)
No matter where you’re having sex, it’s important to know about both your and everyone else’s STI status. Being honest and proactive is all part of keeping yourself and others safe. Free and low-cost STI clinics are available all around the US, and for those who might be even more remote, there are travel kits you can take with you that will provide you with results in as little as 24 hours up to 2-5 days. In short: there’s never a reason not to know about your status or someone else’s, and when you know more, you can make plans to mitigate the risks of spreading further infection.
OTHER (NOT-SO-FUN) INFECTIONS
Being outdoors and getting a little dirty can be just that—dirty—which means that depending on your body, you might be at a heightened risk for contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs) or yeast infections. UTIs are a completely genderless infection, though there is a much stronger possibility of contracting one for those with vulvae. We’ll get much more in-depth into how to get and stay clean later on, but it’s important to know up front that this is a significant risk factor that often sneaks up on people and can definitely put a damper on your adventure (as well as your sexy time).
If there’s the potential of unwanted pregnancy, make sure you come prepared to address those risks with whatever contraception method(s) work best for you and anyone else you might be with. Remember that pregnancy is a biological function and cannot be determined by gender presentation or identity, so as with everything else, it’s important to incorporate this risk into your conversation proactively so that everyone is on the same page about the potential of pregnancy.
Note: Unless you’re abstaining from sex, there is no 100% effective method for pregnancy prevention. However, when used effectively, there are methods that can get you pretty close.
Not every method is safe or effective for each person, so being aware of your own body’s needs and reactions is critical to finding methods that you’ll feel safe using.
Lastly, when it comes to outdoors and travel-heavy environments, not all contraceptive products are going to stand the test of extreme heat or cold (especially condoms) – so be cognizant and come up with safe sex methods that will actually help prevent unwanted pregnancy or STI transmission.
Originally adapted from Good Lovin' Field Guide Vol. 1: The Down and Dirty Field Guide to Great Outdoor Sex written by Laura Borichevsky for Après Delight.