Sex & Relationships

Fun in the Tub: The Woman Who Has Invented a New Tool for Women to Masturbate Will Surprise You

Bath time has never been so fun.

Photo Credit: Iancu Cristian / Shutterstock

For every bathtub, in every bathroom, there is a woman who will masturbate inside it. And that's not exactly a closely held secret. The “bathtub technique,” a predominantly female form of masturbation in which the woman scoots underneath the faucet while water washes over her clitoris, has been discussed on mommy blogs, Reddit threads, and yes, porn channels. But as fun as simply popularizing the technique can be, some of the most ardent enthusiasts may be harvesting dreams of monetizing the trend. What they might not know is that someone has already beat them to the punch.

Maureen Pollack is a woman who respects the art of masturbation. A seasoned practitioner herself, she has dabbled with all kinds of different forms. But her first experience started with a broken faucet. “When I was 15, I went to go set up in the bathtub and I grabbed the faucet and it popped off. Behind it was a pipe that shot straight forward and the water started spraying me in the face. I jumped back and it hit me somewhere else,” she told me over the phone. “I probably took about four baths a day until my dad fixed it.”

She got older. She bought a vibrator. But then she got sick of it. Or, rather, she got sick of what it was doing to her orgasm. “With a vibrator, you get instant gratification. You can get an orgasm within two minutes.” After a while, she felt that the vibratory power her toys provided were dulling her sensitivity. “Even with the highest vibration setting on my Hitachi, I wasn’t feeling it.” That’s when she went back to scooting under the faucet, a reliable means by which she could secure an orgasm, but one that demands a level of flexibility not everyone possesses. “I kept thinking about how awesome it would be if the water came to me, instead of me going to the water.”

Talk of water-aided orgasms has existed for years. Hundreds of years, in fact. Rachel P. Maines details its history in her book The Technology of Orgasm. Father Sebastian Kneipp, a 19th-century practitioner of naturopathic medicine, felt “female complaints” could be best remedied by aiming pumped water directly at the pelvis. Fast-forward to 1970 with the release of Our Bodies Ourselvesand you’ll find the practice discussed as a reliable alternative to manual masturbation. Three years later, a psychiatrist by the name of Eugene Halpert pointed to the excerpt when he sent a report on “a particular form of masturbation in women” to the American Psychoanalytic Association. “They all used the identical method, lying on their backs in the tub and positioning themselves so that the water from the faucet could be run on their genitals,” he wrote. In her seminal 1976 report of female masturbation practices, sex educator Shere Hite revealed that around 2 percent of respondents masturbated with water, either by means of the tap or a hand-held shower hose.

Pollack brought the WaterSlyde to market in 2014. It’s a modest device, consisting of just a plastic spout to help direct the flow of water and a pink ribbon to help station it around the faucet. The real push came after a conversation with her gynecologist, who offered to invest after Pollack introduced the idea. In the end, she was able to fund the project on her own.

The original prototype was brought to life with the help of a 3D printer, a technology that an increasing amount of sex-tech entrepreneurs are starting to incorporate into their design process. As Janet Lieberman, chief technology officer of Dame products, told us in an email, “3D printers let us develop products a lot faster than traditional prototyping techniques. By having relatively inexpensive 3D printers in-house, we can iterate quickly and test a lot of different small variations on designs, which is really important for developing products like sex toys where ergonomics are important,” She added, “You have to feel things to tell what works.”

Because Pollack's product requires users to interact with water, they're provided with an additional perk. It comes back to hygiene, and is vastly preferably to douching, which, in non-clinical terms, is considered somewhat of a "no-no." As reported by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, “Doctors recommend that you do not douche.” The practice, which involves washing out the inside of the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids, can lead to vaginal infections, sexually transmitted infections and even problems getting pregnant. Rinsing the outside of your vagina with water, however, does not present a problem. Pollack has marketed her product as “the feminine hygiene device that stimulates.”

“I interviewed a lot of women on their hygiene practices, and it was kind of scary what some of them were telling me,” Pollack explains. “They were inserting their shampoo bottle and squeezing it. Some people were saying that they actually sprayed perfume inside. These things are dangerous.”

That said, there are certain precautions worth taking. As Carol Queen notes in The Sex & Pleasure Book, “It’s not wise to let a pounding stream of water rush directly into the vagina.” Another point to look out for? Temperature. “Not too hot,” says Queen.

“It’s been fun rocking the boat,” says Pollack. “I feel like I’m helping normalize the [sex toy] industry.” Still, as a modern orthodox Jewish woman, Pollack avoids advertising with overt terms like “cum” or “orgasm.” She’s even been approached by a few porn producers looking to incorporate the WaterSlyde into their films. That’s not an avenue she’s interested in pursuing.

As for the orthodox community, she says, “People are generally supportive. I don’t know what people say behind closed doors, and I don’t think it’s really my business anyways. But I have spoken to a few rabbis about it.”

One even told her that while attending a conference out of town, her name came up. He was asked if he knew “the WaterSlyde lady.” He confirmed. Then there was a debate. Half the rabbinical side championed Pollack’s efforts. The other side argued she was dipping a toe into dangerous territory. “The fact that we were having that discussion was so impressive to me,” the rabbi later revealed. “It’s not something we would normally discuss, but it is important to talk about.” 

Carrie Weisman is a writer focusing on sex, relationships and culture.