It was, and remains, one of the most spectacular things I’d ever witnessed. A dozen women, my then-partner among them, shooting arcs of liquid into the air from their genitals for the very first time, in unison. What had begun 90 minutes earlier as a fairly granular anatomy lesson in a Brooklyn townhouse had seamlessly morphed into something resembling the fountain show at the Bellagio.
Though intensely focused on my partner’s sudden apparent ability to “squirt”—as female ejacuation is commonly known—I was very much aware that the other new squirters in the room seemed to be expressing the same two things as she was: an unbridled release of pent up emotion and utter incredulity at their body’s ability to do something completely new and almost magical.
Up until this moment, I harbored serious doubts that the well-muscled man wearing colorful briefs and the hairstyle of a Lenape warrior could guide this diverse group of women and their partners to opening the floodgates for the first time, much less at the same time. Indeed, I showed up feeling fairly certain that there were people who could squirt and people who could not squirt and that it broke down in a ratio similar to those who are right- and left-handed.
What’s more, over a 15-year career writing mostly about sex and sexuality, I’d read plenty of scientific papers which concluded that female ejaculation is definitely a thing and a number insisting that it was definitely not a thing. A couple of others argued that it was a thing but not the thing you might think it is if Pornhub is where you’re getting your information. There was still more research that looked at where it came from, what the ejaculate was comprised of and how prevalent it was. As we were permitted entry into the townhouse, all of these nuanced conclusions literature had me resigned to going home unmoved and dry.
I left that space—Kenneth Play’s Squirting “PlayLab”—over two years ago, a firm and pleasantly damp believer in the idea that most women have the capacity to squirt. I have witnessed it many times since. But while squirting has become a very popular subgenre in porn and a ton of gear to both facilitate and manage sexual play that results in a puddle is readily available on Amazon, the scientific literature, at first blush, is as inconclusive as ever.
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The main issue is around how female ejaculation—which has been written about for millennia in both the Eastern and Western world—is defined. Some papers conclude that the expulsion of cupfuls of clear liquid often depicted in porn and which necessitates the changing of sheets is chiefly urine. The term female ejaculate, they argue, should be narrowed to refer only to much smaller volumes of a milky white liquid that may also be expressed from the urethra.
Before becoming a sexologist, sex counselor, and sex educator, Anita Hoffer was a professor of Urology at Brigham and Women's Hospital. She confirms that virtually all of the ejaculate I’ve seen fly the the air had moments before been contained in a bladder explaining that there’s no other place for it to come from.
Studies have suggested that what is thought of as “true” female ejaculate springs from the Skene’s glands. These glands, which run alongside the urethra, are often called the female prostate because like the male version, they produce prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP). “It’s important to realize that the Skene’s glands are very small and there is no way they can create 150, or even 30 ml of female ejaculate all by themselves,” Hoffer says.
A French study set about looking at where the massive amounts of liquid you might see at the Squirting PlayLab or in adult films such as ‘Squirt Squad,’ ‘Liquid Lesbians,’ and ‘White Water Shafting’ comes from. Researchers recruited seven self-professed super soakers whose gushes coincided with orgasm and asked them to provide a urine sample. The women then underwent an ultrasound to confirm that their bladders were empty. The seven then did whatever it took to make it rain. Some made it happen solo, others had their partners lend a hand.
Before the women experienced la petite mort, a second ultrasound was performed and at the point of orgasm the loosed fluid was collected in a bag and a third and final exam was performed. The second thing the researchers discovered was that that bladders of the women had completely re-filled prior to them letting it all go. The third thing they found was that while two of the seven volunteers’ urine samples were identical to the fluid they expelled at orgasm, the other five women had a small amount of PSA present in their squirt which was not present in their initial urine sample. The scientists' first conclusion was probably that they are doing nothing to dispel Americans’ ideas about what being a French academic is actually like on a day-to-day basis.
Hoffer explains that as urine passes through the urethra during sexual stimulation it picks up the secretions of the neighboring Skene’s glands on its way out. Play says that while some of the people in his classes put out a small amount of white fluid, most spray out a much larger volume of clear liquid. He thinks that while a few of his thousands of coachees are expelling only “true” ejaculate or only pee, most squirters—as a tentative consensus within the scientific community suggests—most are producing a cocktail of both: a little from column A and a lot from column B.
“I found that whatever this stuff is made of isn’t really that important to anyone who's experienced it,” Play says, adding that it’s quite common for new squirters to cry, laugh, or scream when letting go. He thinks that feelings of shame or being worried about being normal or just making a wet patch when you masturbate leads to clench when they feel an involuntary urge to pee during sex play. “While teaching technique and the ergonomics of facilitating an ejaculation to the partner is important, it’s more important to help the squirter to open up physically and emotionally when the feeling of needing to pee begins to manifest.”
“Women report that ejaculation may accompany sexual arousal but that it may also occur during sexual activity without being simultaneous with orgasm,” Hoffer says; she once performed a “informal” survey on 160 women’s perception of G-spot stimulation which is often associated to female ejaculation. She found that roughly half of them didn’t care for it at all. “Everyone is different.”
Hoffer remarks that an entire industry has grown around the G-spot and the female ejaculation it can provoke, referring to toys, books, other gear and, I suppose squirting workshops like the ones Play offers in the flesh and online. She says that the ability to squirt has become a marker sexual success for some women and that men too will “gauge their sexual prowess by the size of the wet spot on the sheets after sexual activity.”
“This is unfortunate and based on emulation of the male model where ejaculation is associated with pleasure,” she says, “and can leave both partners feeling unnecessarily unsuccessful if the female doesn’t respond in this particular way.”
Of course, even if a woman doesn’t or can’t squirt doesn’t mean she isn’t great at sex and isn’t thoroughly enjoying it. Indeed, even though the partner who gushed at the PlayLab was wowed by her ability to squirt, she dissuaded me from putting undue effort into provoking it again.
“Nah, I’m good,” she’d chirp, when I offered to put what I’d learned in my role as the facilitator into action. According to one intriguing study however, my former squeeze may have been something of an outlier. The survey, published in the British Journal of Urology found that 78.8 percent of women who squirt found that it enriched their sex lives. Their partners were even more enthused when things got wet and wild—fully 90 percent of them were super into it. Provided that my partners are enthused about opening the floodgates, I’m super into it too.
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