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Thursday, March 26, 2009

FAQs, Part 1: Female Ejaculation

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I make time for anonymous questions at most of the sexuality education programs that I do, whether I'm at UWM, Erotic Milwaukee, or another university or community center. I love seeing trends in the questions that I get (a recent favorite was the spate of queries that I received last year about getting a sexually transmitted infection in one's eye, brought on apparently by an offhand comment by Dr. Phil. For the record, yes, it's possible). Most people think that they're the only person with a particular concern, or that they're asking a question that I surely have not heard before, when in reality it's very unusual for me to encounter a totally new topic.

Over the past several months, the hands-down most frequently asked questions have been about female ejaculation. In one workshop alone in March, I received the following questions from different participants: How can a girl "squirt" during an orgasm? Is every woman able to squirt? What is the substance of female cum? Why do I always pee during sex? What is the quickest way for a woman to "squirt"?

Information about the G-spot and female ejaculation has been fairly easy to find since the mid-80s, so what's driving the interest now? It may be trends in porn - there seems to be a lot of it out there right now featuring female "squirting" scenes. There's even a quasi-educational DVD available called "Convert Her to a Squirter" that comes packaged with a G-spot toy that's used in the film. I'm all for knowing our bodies and their capabilities better, but this makes me a tad nervous. It's the opposite of healthy sexuality if women feel compelled to perform some new type of sex act - now it's not enough to have an orgasm; it must also be accompanied by gushing fluids.

As Susie Bright blogged so eloquently a few years ago, "Not every woman would or could ejaculate, or even wanted to. Since when did it become a requirement? I didn't expect every woman to gush and squirt from the press of a "button" any more than I would expect every woman to adore cunnilingus, or anal sex, or nipple-sucking…To my dismay, I began to meet a new generation of women who felt like something was wrong with them because they didn't have magical g-spot vaginal orgasms- that they were deformed, broken, or incapable."

So, I encourage people to experiment, but not to put pressure on themselves (or their partners) to achieve female ejaculation at all costs. Being too goal-oriented can take the fun and pleasure out of sex, and then what's the point?

So here's a bare-bones answer about female ejacuation. There's been far less research on this topic than on male ejaculation, due to a combination of female ejaculation not having a reproductive purpose and our culture's general gyno-phobia, so it's possible that this explanation could change as sex experts gather more information.

Yes, women can ejaculate. Women have glands and tissue surrounding the urethra (tube that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body and allows urine to exit) that are collectively called the "urethral sponge." Although not all educators agree on this, when I teach, I say that the urethral sponge is the area that is commonly referred to as the G-spot. The urethral sponge is analogous to the prostate gland in men, which produces part of the fluid that makes up semen. Like the prostate, the urethral sponge can be sensitive to touch and pressure when a person is aroused, and can be stimulated by firm, indirect pressure to the front wall of the vagina, using fingers or a toy or, in certain positions, a penis.

For some women, stimulation of the urethral sponge can lead to a feeling of being about to pee. This feeling may be a sign that she is about to ejaculate. Since women have never been taught that anything but urine comes out of their urethras, this feeling can be scary for some, and they may choose to stop stimulation rather than accidentally "wetting the bed." I get a lot of worried questions from women about this, like the one above. It's certainly possible that a woman could be experiencing urinary incontinence, but much of the time, she's feeling a build-up of ejaculatory fluid in the urethral sponge. If she continues stimulation until she releases this fluid, it will exit via the urethra, but it's not urine - it's a fluid that's similar in makeup to that produced by the prostate.

Although G-spot stimulation is the most common way for women to ejaculate, some women can also ejaculate through clitoral stimulation (in fact, one workshop participant asked anonymously, "Why do I ejaculate more from vaginal stimulation than clitoral stimulation?", which sounds to me like she produces some ejaculate from both types). There's a wide range of normal in the amount of fluid that women can release - from a few drops to what seems like buckets. I recommend putting down towels, absorbent pads or even plastic sheets if that helps you let loose without worry!

This is the Cliffs Notes version of female ejaculation, and I really encourage interested people to seek out more information. Deborah Sundahl (http://www.isismedia.org/) is widely considered a female ejaculation guru, and she has a book and a number of DVDs on the topic (some of which are available at the Tool Shed). Books and DVDs about the G-spot will often cover female ejaculation to some degree, including the short and sweet classic Good Vibrations Guide: The G-Spot , Violet Blue's Smart Girl's Guide to the G-Spot, and Tristan Taormino's Expert Guide to the G-Spot DVD, all of which are Tool Shed best-sellers.

In sum, all women have the equipment necessary to ejaculate, but not everyone finds this kind of stimulation pleasurable. It's perfectly normal to be a regular gusher or to have zero interest in releasing anything but urine from your pee-hole. To each her own!

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

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