Squirting is a hot topic. Many of you may have questions, and while we don’t have all of the answers yet, the medical and research community has some evidence that seeks to understand this phenomenon that sexuality educators have been discussing for quite some time. Here are some FAQ for your viewing pleasure.

Q: What happens when someone squirts?

A: According to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, some women report a discharge of liquid from their urethra. This event is also known as “squirting.” Researchers investigated this phenomenon among seven women, who reported a large amount of fluid being released during their sexual encounters. In the study, participants voluntarily emptied their bladder (urinated) and then pelvic ultrasounds were conducted before, during, and after sexual arousal. The results showed that before sexual arousal, the bladder was empty. During sexual arousal, just before squirting, there was evidence that the bladder was filling up. After squirting, the participants’ bladders were empty again.

Sidenote: Although this study is extremely helpful to gain insights into what happens during squirting, the sample size was very small. Often in the research community, large sample sizes are needed to make the case that what is being observed is actually true and is not just by chance. In this study, only seven women were included and that could be for several reasons. For instance, if a woman (or person with a vagina) does squirt, she may not have wanted to be in this kind of study. Future studies examining the body will help provide additional data about squirting.

Q: Am I squirting or peeing?

A: Evidence from the study mentioned above indicates that squirting is the result of an involuntary release of a fluid from the bladder during sexual activity. In some cases, fluid from the Skene’s glands is released. The Skene’s glands produce and secrete fluid to help lubricate the opening of the urethra. The fluid helps with lubrication during sexual activity and a larger amount can be excreted during orgasm. This phenomenon is also known as “female ejaculation”.

Q: Is squirting the same thing as an ejaculation (“cumming”)?

A: Another study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine shows that squirting and what researchers call “female ejaculation” are two different experiences. This study indicates that squirting is the result of a massive amount of clear fluid being released from the urinary bladder. The results also show female ejaculation is the result of a thick, whitish fluid that comes from the Skene’s glands.

In essence, there is not enough evidence to conclude whether or not squirting is urine from the bladder, or fluid from the Skene’s glands. Some women may excrete a combination of these fluids. Others may excrete one or the other. Keep in mind that the Skene’s glands are located on the sides of the urethra. Therefore, it may be highly unlikely to determine where the fluid is coming from, unless under direct observation.

Q: Am I normal if I don’t squirt or ejaculate during an orgasm?

A: Of course! Although some women (or people with a vagina) may release fluid during sexual arousal and orgasm, it all depends on the person and their body. The release of fluid is not typically a part of the female orgasm. Orgasms involve an increased heart rate, quick breaths, and muscle spasms through the body (often in the vagina, uterus, anus, and pelvic floor).

The bottom line is this – whether you’re a squirter or not – sexual activities are meant to be pleasurable. There is no need to feel shame if your body expels fluid. If your body does not do this, don’t feel like you are lacking in this area.

Remember, squirting and ejaculation happen involuntarily due to a variety of factors. If your goal is to have pleasurable sexual experiences, focus on learning and understanding what pleasure means to you. If you have a partner, talk about pleasure with them.

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes

PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist at Centers for Disease Control
Dr. Ashley Townes (she/her/hers), is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati, where she received both her Bachelors and Master of Public Health degrees. She received her doctorate degree in Health Behavior and Epidemiology from Indiana University.

Dr. Townes has experience working as a Community Health Educator and Disease Intervention Specialist in Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. She has worked on several initiatives related to the dissemination of national HIV prevention and care campaign materials tailored for African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, and transgender women of color. Dr. Townes has taught collegiate-level Human Sexuality courses, served as an Epidemiologist at the Ohio Department of Health, and currently works as an ORISE Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention’s Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA.

Ashley’s research background includes work on the sexual experiences of African American/Black women accessing health information and utilizing sexual health services. In 2018, she received grant funding from the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health to translate sexual health research data into educational materials. Her career interests are aimed at providing quality sexual education and working towards health equity.