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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012

A Quasi-Scientific Explanation of Queefing

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How come not all girls queef?

Before the skeptics among you start saying that this isn't a serious reader question, let me inform you that students ask me about queefing—aka vaginal flatulence—at almost every college workshop I do. It seems both trivial and hilarious, just like the other kind of farting, but it can also be embarrassing, and people genuinely want to know what to do about it. I take all questions seriously—even if I can't actually say the word “queef” without laughing.

So, exactly how does vaginal flatulence happen? Air can get pushed into the vagina during vaginal penetration with a penis, dildo, hand or other object, especially if there's vigorous thrusting involved or you're in a position that allows for deep penetration. At some point—often when you change positions—that air will be released from the vagina, usually accompanied by the kind of loud noise typically associated with stupid male-ensemble comedy movies. Vaginal flatulence doesn't create any kind of bad odor, unlike farts that move through the gastrointestinal system—it's really just noise. However, queefing can still be embarrassing, since vagina-havers are socialized to never make any kind of rude sounds with their bodies, and a queef can be sonically indistinguishable from a fart, creating an awkward moment where you may feel compelled to explain to your partner exactly which orifice was involved in making that sound.

I'm not sure if the person asking this question is coming from the perspective of someone who has had several female partners, some of whom queefed and some of whom did not, or from the perspective of someone who has chatted with friends about the issue and discovered that not everyone had a queefing story to share. In any case, all vaginas can potentially experience flatulence. Some people might experience this more than others. Whether or not this happens on any given occasion depends on the size and shape of the genitals and/or toys involved, how much in-out thrusting is going on and how fast or hard it is, and what positions you're in. Sometimes the contractions caused by an orgasm can also cause queefing—totally normal. If you and your partner figure out that certain positions or activities are likely to result in queefing, you can avoid them if you want—but why? If you love a particular type of play, don't let a fart-like sound keep you away from it. Sex is a ridiculous activity on many levels, and it's important to keep a sense of humor about it.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.


Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.