Buckle up folks, we’re about to dive into a controversial sex question: how to squirt during sex? “Squirting,” more accurately known as female ejaculation (and sometimes called “shejaculate” by the Internet) remains one of the more highly debated and controversial topics in sex science to date. Many experts still debate whether female ejaculation even exists—in the year 2020 we still haven’t yet sorted out female sexual physiology.
Anything to do with female sexuality has, and continues to be, taboo in the strongest sense of the word. As a sex therapist turned neuroscientist, this is what fuels my work—and exactly what I explore in my Glamour column Ask. Dr. Nan and in my new book Why Good Sex Matters. The truth is, we probably know just as much (if not more) about the composition of the fluids that flowed on the surface of Mars billions of years ago than we do about the nature of what is expelled by the human female during sex. How is that possible given references to female ejaculation date back to fourth century ancient Taoist texts?
We can partially blame the stigma. It’s certainly understandable that women might be too ashamed to admit that they ejaculate, never mind be willing to show up in a lab to be studied. But the result is that we remain so clueless about squirting that some medical professionals continue to insist that any fluid that leaks out of a woman during sex is urine—a result of incontinence.
Time to set the record straight.
What is squirting?
Let’s take a moment to distinguish between ejaculation (aka “squirting” during sex) and lubrication. Lubrication is a slippery substance secreted by the walls of the vagina when you’re aroused, while ejaculate is a watery fluid expelled during sexual stimulation or orgasm, through the urethra—the tube that transports urine from the bladder out of the body.
Experts aren’t entirely sure where the fluid comes from, but research indicates that the Skene’s glands, (also known as the paraurethral glands or “urethral sponge“) are involved. This tube of tissue wraps around the urethra and as arousal builds, the erectile compartments swell up like a bunch of grapes filled with fluid, according to Sheri Winston, author of Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure. Where does the fluid come from? It’s filtered out from the watery part of our blood plasma and combines with secretions similar in composition to those from the male prostate to make female ejaculate. It sounds strange but it’s just nature at work—in fact, It’s similar to how nursing mothers make breast milk, which also involves fluids filtered from the blood.
Because the science of squirting is woefully sparse, this is up for debate. Some experts still claim that the larger amounts of ejaculate involved in squirting—more than a teaspoonful or so—are urine and we don’t have sufficient studies to say for sure. Personally, based on what we know about the anatomy of the urethral sponge, I believe that women’s capacity to squirt larger quantities of fluid (not urine) will ultimately be validated scientifically.
Why do you squirt?
The short answer is that when fluids build up in the erectile tissue of the urethral sponge, they need to be released.
Some believe that the fluids expelled during sex may function to protect the urinary system from infection by cleansing the urethra during and after intercourse.
Can everyone squirt?
The International Society for Sexual Medicine asserts that ejaculation indeed is a “thing,” reported by 10-50% of women depending on how the question is asked. The volume of ejaculate can vary widely—ranging from small, barely noticeable amounts to gushing streams—so there is big variability in how women define and report their experience. Some experts believe that all women ejaculate but don’t know it as the fluid may flow backward into the bladder. So it’s completely possible that you’ve experienced squirting during sex and just not realized it.