Sex researchers address everything you've always wanted to know about squirting.

By Ashley Mateo
Updated: March 19, 2019

Female ejaculation has something of a mythical reputation when it comes to sexual health topics. Everyone has questions: Can women actually ejaculate like men? If a woman can, is that even normal? And what comes out, anyway? To get answers, we reached out to sex experts, who separated the myths from the facts.

What exactly is female ejaculation?

Put simply, “vaginal ejaculation is the expulsion of fluid through the urethra during sexual arousal (but not necessarily orgasm),” New York–based sex educator Corinne Kai tells Health.

Does that mean a woman can ejaculate like a guy? Well, that is why the phenomenon is colloquially known as squirting. But “what women define as ‘ejaculation’ varies widely, and there is no accepted scientific standard for qualifying as female ejaculation by the volume or speed of the expulsion,” Nicole Prause, PhD, a sex researcher at UCLA, tells Health.

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So while one woman might experience more of a forceful stream of liquid, another might feel a gushing sensation. “The fluid amount tends to range between 30 and 150 milliliters," says Kai, which can be just a drop of liquid or so much that you soak your bedsheets. “Sometimes people don't even realize they ejaculated until they move and see a wet spot, while others can feel when it’s happening," she adds. "It depends on your body.”

Where does the fluid come from?

The first major study that looked into squirting back in 2014 determined the liquid was...pee. Yep, “the fluid comes from the bladder,” says Prause. Researchers found urea, creatinine, and uric acid concentrations—all major components of urine—in the excretions of all seven study participants. (Keep in mind that’s a tiny sample size, and it's hardly considered representative of half the world’s population).

But the ejaculate is also...not pee. “Many have argued that squirting isn’t real and that people who experience this just need to go to the bathroom before sex,” says Kai. “It is released through your urethra, but it’s been found to resemble enzymes found in male prostate fluid.The male prostate gland sits between the bladder and penis and secretes fluid to help nourish sperm.

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While the liquid may contain small amounts of urine, additional research suggests that the milky white fluid comes from the Skene's glands, which are "tucked inside the wall of your vagina near the urethra sponge, right at the G-spot," says Kai. "The location explains why sensations along this erogenous zone have been associated with vaginal ejaculation."

Male ejaculate delivers sperm to the female reproductive system, and procreation depends on it. But scientists aren’t quite sure of the purpose of the Skene's glands, which are also known as the female prostate. Nor do they understand the reason women ejaculate. 

“There have been many studies done about whether or not vaginal ejaculation is related to the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, but none have been proven,” says Kai. “However, some researchers have found that vaginal ejaculation could provide a secretion that could protect against UTIs or even contain antimicrobial components like zinc.”

Can all women ejaculate?

If you believe the multitude of squirting videos that exist on porn websites, it certainly seems so. “I suspect that ‘female ejaculation’ is portrayed as a way to suggest that the female performers are actually turned on,” says Prause. Thanks to their availability on porn sites, female ejaculation has become somewhat of a novelty—and also something many women think they should be able to do.

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Yet only 10% to 50% of women experience "involuntary ejaculation," according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine. Because “we don’t know how this expulsion is triggered, it’s impossible to know at this time whether some women may be more or less prone to experience it,” says Prause.

So despite what porn would have you believe, not every person with a vagina can or will experience ejaculation. “Sex researchers [believe] that G-spot stimulation increases the probability of being able to experience ejaculation, and sex coaches have said that it can be learned,” says Kai. “It’s likely that the sensation before vaginal ejaculation holds people back from releasing their muscles and allowing it to happen. It can feel like you have to pee right before vaginal ejaculation, which is linked to a lot of shame or embarrassment in people not wanting to pee on their partners.”

If you have never ejaculated but want to give it a try, it certainly can't hurt. At the very least, you’ll get a lot of pleasure out all the G-spot stimulation, and if you are able to ejaculate, it might be a turn-on for you (or your partner). But as novel as the idea of squirting may seem, remember this: No research has linked female ejaculation to better sex. Your pleasure in bed definitely doesn't depend on your ability to ejaculate or not.

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