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Squirting is the release of fluid from the vulva around the moment of orgasm, and it’s the stuff of sexual legend.

The internet is full of eager, curious questions about squirting: how can we make it happen? Does it really guarantee a leg-shaking, earth-shattering orgasm? And what about if we can’t squirt—does that make us weird? (Spoiler alert: no, it definitely doesn’t.)

Squirting has also been a hot topic of debate from within the medical and scientific communities. Some experts believe that what we call squirting is actually just spontaneous urination during sex. Others insist that squirting is its own unique phenomenon, and a good handful maintain that squirting doesn’t exist at all.

We’ll be honest: even among the experts, not a lot is known about squirting. We can’t explain absolutely everything about it, because there are still so many unknowns. But there are some things about squirting that we definitely can clear up, and that’s what we’re going to do now.

First up—what exactly is squirting?

Squirting is when the vulva gushes, squirts, or trickles fluid when stimulated. It doesn’t necessarily have to occur at the moment of orgasm, but it often does. Anecdotally, we have heard some people say that for them squirting and orgasm are two totally different things—they might easily be able to orgasm, but squirting doesn’t always happen; or they might squirt long before they have an orgasm.

Squirting can make orgasms feel more intense and pleasurable, but like any physical sensation, it’s subjective—one person’s squirting orgasms might feel absolutely amazing, while another’s could be totally ordinary. 

The jury is still out on exactly what kind of fluid is released when a person squirts. One study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that squirting and vulvar ejaculation are two totally different things, with ejaculation being the release of thick white fluid from the Skene’s glands (more on those in a minute) and squirting being the release of diluted urine from the bladder. Another study, conducted a few years later and published in the same journal, looked deeper into this hypothesis and actually conducted ultrasounds on participants before, during, and after squirting to see if their bladders were full—we’re guessing they were interested to see if people could still squirt with an empty bladder. The study found that even though participants had empty bladders prior to sex, their bladders became full before squirting and then were empty again afterwards, indicating that urine was released when participants squirted. Fascinating, right?

However, another interesting study found that vulvar ejaculation was far more common than ‘coital incontinence’ (or, weeing during sex), although it did note that ejaculate could often contain urine.

So the short answer to ‘what comes out when we squirt?’ is: probably some pee and lubricating fluids from the Skene’s gland, although officially we don’t know. 

For what it’s worth, the debate around whether or not squirting is actually urination has been an intense one. The UK actually banned pornography that involves squirting because they believed that porn performers may have been urinating instead, a decision that we reckon is pretty small-minded. Sex educator Lux Alptraum wrote about the squirt vs. urine debate, arguing that it is, “Hard to ignore that the experience of spontaneously expelling fluid in the height of orgasm is fundamentally different from the more intentional act of voiding one’s bladder”. Alptraum suggested that debating whether or not squirting is ‘real’ contributes to a culture that routinely disbelieves people when they define their own sexual experiences, and we have to agree on this.

The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things, and dismissing squirting as ‘just’ urination would be pretty silly when so many people have said that their experiences with squirting feel so totally different to urinating. 

How does squirting happen?

This question is easier to answer! Squirting can happen for some people when they’re aroused, often but not always at the moment of orgasm. Squirting can involve stimulation of the Skene’s glands, which are frequently referred to as a sort of prostate in the vulva. 

The Skene’s glands surround the urethra, and can be accessed by pressing on the upper wall of the vagina. If you’re thinking, ‘hey, that sounds a lot like the g-spot’, you would be very correct—many people believe that when we stimulate the g-spot, we’re actually stimulating the Skene’s glands. This explains why some people squirt when their g-spot is stimulated, and it also explains why urine can sometimes be released when we squirt: because the Skene’s glands and the urethra are so close together. Although squirting can happen during any sexual activity, we’d say it most commonly happens when the g-spot is stimulated.

There’s no tried-and-true method for making one’s self (or one’s partner) squirt, but if you’d like to have a red-hot go at it, we recommend the following:

And if you don’t want to squirt?

Squirting can be extremely pleasurable, but some people would rather avoid squirting every time they’re intimate. They might find the feeling intense or overwhelming, or they may just want to skip the excess laundry afterwards—we get it! 

There’s no one, proven way to avoid squirting, just like there’s no one, proven way to squirt. However, here are a few suggestions from us on how to lessen your chances of squirting during sex:

To learn more about the foundations of great sex with acclaimed sex coach Georgia Grace, check out NORMAL's video masterclass, The Modern Guide To Sex.