What Is Squirting Exactly?

May 7, 2018 at 3:01 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

What was once a taboo subject is getting attention as a legitimate sexual bodily function.

The first time I heard about squirting was when I was a teenager and went to the Vagina Monologues. I saw a woman onstage talking about how the first time she climaxed with a man, she had fluid that was gushing out of her; it wouldn't stop and he was horrified. It changed how she felt about intimacy and orgasming with anyone. She was ashamed.

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A big reason many people used to feel this way is because squirting (also called "female ejaculation," though not everyone with a vulva identifies as female) just hasn't been covered in the way ejaculation for people with a penis has.

What is squirting?

Dr. Michael Ingber, a physician who has done research on the subject of squirting and is board-certified in urology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, tells SheKnows that squirting is simply when the ejaculation fluid comes from the urethra.

Similar to penises, vulvas have "a bit of tissue at the junction of the urethra similar to the prostate, which is near the bladder," he says. This tissue can "squirt" fluid into the urethra during sex or orgasm.

While some people with vulvas expel fluid at the time of orgasm, there is also a condition known as “coital incontinence,” which is different. Coital incontinence is when there’s a large explosion of urine at orgasm, Ingber explains. This is typically something people have medically repaired.

What fluids are involved?

When someone with a vulva squirts during orgasm, there is prostatic-specific antigen in the fluid. PSA is also “the protein produced in men’s prostate gland,” Ingber says.

Are squirting & ejaculation the same thing?

Ingber says vulvar ejaculation and squirting are essentially the same thing, although there has been much debate on the subject. While some people with vulvas have a small amount of milky-white discharge after orgasm (known as ejaculate), some expel enough fluid that it’s equivalent to wetting the bed.

How come some people with vulvas can do it & others can't?

Ingber conducted an informational survey and found about 10 percent of people with a vulva squirt during orgasm. He also added that while some people enjoy this experience, others are annoyed by it or find it embarrassing or inconvenient.

A person's ability to squirt depends on having the proper glands, as some people with a vulva simply “don't have enough fluid within the gland," Ingber notes. While there are procedures to fix squirting for those who don’t like it, Ingber says there has been no proof someone who doesn't do it can teach their body to do. He adds, “it seems to be a natural phenomenon not everyone can do.” 

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The important thing to remember is whatever your body does during an orgasm is natural, and there should be no shame attached to it. Climaxing is an amazing experience to have on your own or share with a partner, and whether you have a vulva or a penis, the more we understand the way our body works, the more pleasurable the encounter. No one should feel ashamed while having an orgasm for any reason. But there is peace of mind in knowing there are measures you can take to stop squirting if it's something you aren't comfortable with or that's hindering your sex life.

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