Some women release a large amount of clear liquid from the urethra at orgasm, a process that is distinct from female ejaculation, which involves the release of a small amount of milky liquid. Now the source of both liquids has been identified
16 September 2022
The “squirting” that some women are known to experience at orgasm has been confirmed to be liquid that is expelled from the bladder, helping to clear up a long-running mystery.
Women can produce several types of fluid during sex. At the arousal stage, lubricating fluid is released by the vagina. Then, as orgasm is reached, two other types of fluid can sometimes be expelled from the urethra: a milky fluid secreted in small amounts, and a clear fluid released in large volumes, often hundreds of millilitres.
Until recently, both orgasm fluids were described as female ejaculation. However, this term is now reserved for the milky fluid, while “squirting” is used to describe the release of the clear fluid.
About 5 per cent of women in Western countries are thought to experience squirting, but what the fluid is and where it comes from has been uncertain.
A 2014 study led by French gynaecologist Samuel Salama, now at the Poissy Saint Germain en Laye Hospital in Paris, suggested that squirting involves the expulsion of urine from the bladder, since ultrasounds on seven women who could squirt showed their bladders were full just before squirting and empty directly afterwards.
To find out for sure, Miyabi Inoue, a urologist at Miyabi Urogyne Clinic in Japan, and her colleagues injected blue dye mixed with water into the bladders of five female volunteers who could squirt. A male volunteer then sexually stimulated the women until they squirted and a researcher caught the ejected liquid in a sterile cup.
“It is difficult to collect squirted fluid because the direction of squirting is variable,” says Inoue.
In all cases, the squirted liquid was blue.
“This confirms that squirting does seem to originate from the bladder,” says Jessica Påfs at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “But there are still so many questions, like does the liquid have the same composition as urine? And why is it that some women expel this liquid and others don’t?” she says.
The women in the study all had good bladder control, suggesting their squirting wasn’t caused by urinary incontinence, says Inoue.
At the time of squirting, four women in the study also appeared to experience female ejaculation. This distinct physiological process involves the secretion of a few millilitres or less of thick, milky fluid from small glands next to the urethra called Skene’s glands, or the “female prostate”. The fluid contains prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is also present in the ejaculate produced by the male prostate.
The squirted liquid from four of the women in the study was found to contain PSA, suggesting they produced female ejaculate around the same time as they squirted urine, and the two fluids mixed together in the urethra.
Påfs has found that women’s experiences of squirting vary widely. She interviewed 28 women in Sweden who could squirt and found that it was highly pleasurable for some, while others described it as overrated or embarrassing. Some said they squirted involuntarily, while others learned how to do it with practice.
Påfs also studied women’s experiences of squirting in Rwanda, where it is highly celebrated. “Women in Rwanda talk about it as the highest level of satisfaction – it’s connected to relaxation and release – and they pass the knowledge of how to do it down from generation to generation,” she says.
Journal reference: International Journal of Urology, DOI: 10.1111/iju.15004
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Article amended on 16 September 2022
We have corrected the part of the body from which the clear fluid is emitted
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