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Article • A Squirt, or Not a Squirt: What is Female Ejaculation?

26 October 2016
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☛ Cette chronique est aussi disponible en français [➦].

Translated by Karolina Roman

The summer of 2011 was the first time I  worked as a lifeguard. Some 10 and 11-year-olds squabbled in the water, calling one another “squirters”. I politely asked them to calm down and urged them to come up with an insult other than “squirter.” One of the young swimmers asked me why. Upon sensing  my embarrassment, he offered to show me what a squirter was. Awkward—not only were the other kids watching, but there were also several sunbathing parents listening in on our conversation. “No, no, Louis. That’s all right.” He insisted once, then twice. “No, thank you, I know what you’re talking about, and I don’t really need a demonstration right now,” I told him. Nevertheless, he decided to get out of the pool and stand beside me. He took a stance he considered “feminine” (his hips cocked, one hand behind his head) and began to squirt water out of his mouth...

I burst out laughing, “Oooooh, that kind of squirter!” Five years later, in the summer of 2016, that young swimmer had grown up and joined the lifeguarding team. We still laugh about that time, since he now knows what a squirter “really” is. I actually asked him to strike that same pose so that I could take a picture for this article, but his response—“Gross! Are you crazy, bro?”—seemed to indicate that he prefered to remain anonymous… 

The conversation I had with him about “squirters” gave me the idea to consider the topic a little more seriously. I get the impression that the concept of the female ejaculation is becoming more and more popular, though it remains rather vague to some. I would thus like to demystify female ejaculation: what it is, and what are its functions, composition, origin, and causes.

Not Just in: Female Ejaculation

Though the first known scientific description of female ejaculation dates back to Reinjier de Graaf from the 16th century, several mentions of it have been found in even older texts, such as, Indian texts from the 7th century or Chinese texts from the 4th. The famous Aristotle (300 BCE) and Galen (2nd century) also made mention of the phenomenon in their writings (Korda et al., 2010). Female ejaculation is therefore not a recent discovery, far from it (Salama et al., 2015). Others, such as Pythagoras (570-510 BCE) and Empedocles (490-430 BCE) spoke of female seed or sperm (Korda et al., 2010). Some thought it might be linked to women’s fertility, others (Hippocrates, namely) ascribed it contraceptive properties (Korda et al., 2010).

What is She?

Female ejaculation is defined as the expulsion of a significant amount of fluid during orgasm (Korda et al., 2010). The chemical composition and origin of the milky female ejaculate liquid is  quite distinct  from that of vaginal lubrication  (Meauxsonne-Lesaffre, 2013). Female ejaculation is very complex, which is why this text will dwell on several aspects of this phenomenon. Namely, this article will discuss the composition of the ejaculate, as well as its origin, the possible link with incontinence, the function ejaculation has for women, and, lastly, parallels with the female prostate or the G-spot.

What is She Made of?

In 1982, Addiego’s team of researchers were the first to compare analyses of urine to those of female ejaculate. This team, and many others that followed, allowed us to conclude that the composition of female ejaculate differs from that of urine, but resembles that of male ejaculate (with the exception of spermatozoa, obviously). However, before we get into that, we must specify what the components of female ejaculate are.

Women can expel (or ejaculate) two distinct types of liquid. The first, often referred to as a “squirt,” is watery, abundant, odourless, colourless, and contains urea, creatinine, and uric acid (Rubio-Casillas and Jannini, 2011). Though these components are present in lower quantities than in urine, this compound is sometimes called “diluted urine,” notably because it originates in the bladder (Rubio-Casillas et al., 2011). “Squirts” are not generally considered to be female ejaculate in the scientific community, but simply liquid discharge (Salama et al., 2015).

The second liquid (which may actually be expelled immediately after the first) occurs in lesser quantity and has a thick, milky texture. It also contains a large quantity of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate (Rubio et al., 2011). It is this type of ejaculate that is compared to male ejaculate, because of their similar appearance and composition (Wimpissinger et al., 2009), although the concentration of PSA is higher in the ejaculate of men than in that of women (Rubio et al., 2011).

Other distinct substances found in male ejaculate are also present in large quantities in female ejaculate, unlike in urine. Namely, studies mention fructose, glucose (Belzen et al, 1984; Zaviacic et al., 1988), and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), an enzyme characteristic of male ejaculate (Addiego et al., 1981). It is, however, important to note that many researchers have criticised the study done by Addiego and their colleagues, as the test used to detect PAP is not specific to the enzyme, which can lead to false results (Hines, 2001; Stolorow et al., 1976; Belzer et al. 1984). Nonetheless, in light of these many discoveries, we can conclude that the chemical composition of female ejaculate has significant similarities to male ejaculate.

Where did She Come From?

Salama and colleagues (2014) claim that ejaculated liquid comes from the bladder. By use of an ultrasound, they were indeed able to observe that the bladder is empty before sexual activity, fills up during arousal and the sexual act in question, and then becomes empty once again immediately after orgasm. This occurrence corresponds to what we call “squirting.” The following year, the same team published a second article, specifying that the ejaculate resembling male ejaculate (not the “squirt”) could originate from the Skene glands (Salama et al., 2015).

Urinary Incontinence or Female Ejaculation?

Nevertheless, many people (including healthcare professionals or general practitioners) still believe that female ejaculate is, in fact, nothing more than bladder leakage (Ladas et al., 1982). Although female ejaculate can sometimes originate in the bladder (the first spurt, the “squirt”), it is important to note that this does not constitute urinary incontinence. As we underlined before, female ejaculate does not have the same chemical composition as urine (though some elements may be similar). Urinary incontinence during sexual intercourse (penetration/orgasm) does indeed exist, especially in cases of detrusor hyperactivity (Khan et al., 1988), but it is not the same as ejaculation (Pastor, 2013). It is thus reasonable to assume that female ejaculation is not urinary incontinence as we know it.

First, the How, Next, the Why

It may be legitimate to believe that female ejaculate serves to lubrify the vagina and vulvar vestibule in order to facilitate penetration. What is surprising, is that it may also have other uses Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg, the famous gynecologist after whom the G-spot is named, explained that female ejaculation could not serve as lubricant, since it did not occur until after orgasm, rather than at the beginning of sexual stimulation (Korda et al., 2010). We do not have an understanding of the purpose of female ejaculation at this time. Any hypotheses that have been put forth by researchers have thus far been irreversibly refuted by others. To be continued… 

The Female Prostate, or Schrödinger’s Pussy

De Graaf was one of the first to discuss the existence of the female prostate. He suggested that the urethral glands were the female equivalent of the prostate, specifying that a serous liquid was secreted by the various canals surrounding the urethra (Korda et al., 2010), and the expulsion of this liquid (via the male or female prostate) provided as much pleasure in men as in women (Jocelyn and Setchell, 1972).

De Graaf’s description of the female prostate is extremely similar, albeit less precise, to Alexander Skene’s, who described the glands with openings on either side of the orifice extending upwards from the external urinary meatus (Korda et al., 2010). The scientific community currently agrees that the female prostate does, in fact, exist and that it corresponds to the series of glands described by Skene (Wernert et al., 1992). Wernert’s team showed that the Skene glands are urethral glands analogous to the prostate that drain secretions all the way into the urethra (Kilchevsky et al., 2012). In 1999, Zaviacic proved that the urethral glandular tissue is present in 80% of subjects and that it weighs an average of 5 grams.(Meauxsonne-Lesaffre, 2013). 

The researcher Zaviacic and their team also conducted several studies comparing the male and female prostates, concluding that the latter was significantly smaller in size and was situated along the walls of the urethra (rather than around it, as is the case for its male counterpart) (Korda et al., 2010). What is more, from an embryological and anatomical perspective, is that it is difficult to contradict the analogous nature of the male and female prostates (Heath, 1984; Tepper et al., 1984). Still not convinced? In 2009, Wimpissinger’s team published a study in which the female prostate was studied with the help of MRI and ultrasonography (Wimpissinger et al., 2009). Rather difficult to deny all this evidence… 

The Possible Connection with the G Spot

Could there be a connection between the G-spot and the female prostate? It’s difficult to say. The G-spot is said to be located on the front wall of the vagina, fairly close to the vaginal opening (Ladas et al., 1982). Curiously, the female prostate is located in the same place (Wernert et al., 1992). It would thus be reasonable to speculate that stimulating the G-spot could lead to orgasm and, potentially, to ejaculation. However, I believe that it would be incorrect to come to this conclusion, since the existence of the G-spot is still highly disputed and has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt (Korda et al., 2010) (for more information on this topic, please refer to my previous article). In other words, given that the existence of a sensitive zone on the front wall of the vagina has not yet been adequately demonstrated, it is impossible to say if such a zone could provoke ejaculation. This is, however, what many researchers have asserted, as is the case of Laddas, Whipple, and Perry (1981) in their book The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality. So, there is no way to know… at least, not for now.

Some Things to Remember and to Consider

It is still worth noting that the majority of the results presented in this article have been contradicted by other researchers. It is thus difficult to come to a consensus on the legitimacy of the existence of female ejaculation, even though most studies seem to point in the same direction. More and more articles aimed at the general public have been glorifying female ejaculation, claiming that orgasms are much more powerful if they are accompanied by ejaculation (a topic that recurs quite often in the book by Laddas, Whipple, and Perry (1982)). There are articles about making your partner “squirt” and even classes (“female ejaculation classes”) on how to make yourself ejaculate (some are more graphic than others, including live demonstrations by the instructor). I have noticed that though it remains quite subtle for now, societal  pressure is being exerted and a new standard is being set: the capacity not only to ejaculate, but to be able to control this ejaculation. That is to say, a woman should not ejaculate if her partner does not like it, for example.

In my opinion, women should not have to repress any aspect of their sexuality; they should feel free and accepting of themselves. On the one hand, it would not be useful to exert additional pressure on women, who are already subjected to so much of it. On the other, there is still a stigma surrounding women who can ejaculate. Ladas, Whipple, and Perry’s (1985) book includes several testimonies illustrating just how much some women suffer in silence, because they feel embarrassed or ashamed of their capacity to ejaculate at times. Despite all of the information on the topic that has been circulating for a couple of years, the phenomenon is still considered to be marginal. This is why it is important to listen to and accept women in all their differences, regardless of their capacity to ejaculate. According to me, we must continue to disseminate information, without imposing any pressure whatsoever, to normalize the female ejaculation without making it the standard. The question is not to squirt, or not to squirt: both are normal, both are okay.

We’re already on cloud nine, no need to aim any higher.

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References
squirt, female ejaculation, female ejaculate, G spot, composition, Emmanuelle Gareau

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