Beyond X & Y

Beyond X & Y: Female Ejaculation

It's not just for penises

November 16, 2020
The letters "se" and "xy" moving toward each other horizontally, pressing together, and then separating as "s" and "x" move upward and "e" and "y" move downward out of frame
Gender and sex beyond X & Y. [Credit: Niko McCarty | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

The ability to spurt goo in response to physical stimulation isn’t unique to the penis. Actually, it’s not even the penis (or vagina) so much as the urethra. But no matter the anatomy, female ejaculation is quite common. Researchers don’t know what purpose it serves because — surprise — the female body hasn’t been investigated as extensively as the male body. But, there have been studies that examine where this fluid comes from and what it’s made of.

One study from 2014 found that it most likely comes from the bladder and is expelled through the urethra. Volunteers had to pee (submitting their samples) and then begin sexual stimulation through climax. The women* had three pelvic ultrasounds throughout: once immediately after having peed, again just before orgasm, and finally after they squirted. The second ultrasound showed that their bladders had completely filled during stimulation, even though they had recently been emptied. 

So what comes out? In fact, one of two possible fluids can be released. There’s what’s known as ejaculate — a whitish, milky substance that is produced in small amounts at the point of orgasm. And there’s… well, there’s not really a formal name for it, so it’s known as “squirt” — both in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and on PornHub. Squirt can be released in large quantities (as much as half a cup), and has no color or odor. 

These fluids differ from each other in composition. Ejaculate contains some components found in semen, such as prostate specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase. These substances come from the Skene’s gland, which is a structure found on the front vaginal wall and contains prostate tissue. In males, PSA helps sperm swim, but it’s unclear what function it serves in females. Female ejaculate also contains urea and creatine, which are present in urine. Squirt, however, doesn’t contain prostate enzymes, and chemically it resembles diluted urine — but remember, it’s odorless and colorless.

Ejaculate or squirt, it’s perfectly safe and normal. Either way, you might want to keep a clean towel handy.

 

*in this case cis women, because as we know vagina =/= woman

About the Author

Elana Spivack is a freelance science writer in the New York City area and contributor to Scienceline. When not on deadline (or sheltering for a pandemic), she enjoys salsa dancing, bike riding and befriending bodega cats.

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